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Schiff says he'll have Mueller testify if his report isn't made public

"We are going to get to the bottom of this," Schiff told ABC's "This Week." "We are going to share this information with the public."
Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, leaves a secure area where the panel meets at the Capitol, on Feb. 5, 2018J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says he's got a plan ready if special counsel Robert Mueller's full report isn't made public.

And it includes bringing Mueller himself before his committee.

On Sunday, Schiff, a California Democrat, was asked on ABC's "This Week" about what Democrats will do should Attorney General William Barr decide to keep the highly anticipated report mostly under wraps.

"Well we will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court if necessary," Schiff said. "And in the end, I think the department understands they're going to have to make this public. I think Barr will ultimately understand that as well."

Schiff said that if Barr, who was recently confirmed as attorney general, tried "to withhold, to try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy, and it will be a tarnished legacy."

"So I think there’ll be immense pressure not only on the department, but on the attorney general to be forthcoming," he said.

It was widely reported last week that Mueller's report could be submitted to Barr within a matter of days. But by Friday, new reporting suggested that the report is not expected to be delivered by the end of this week. In December, NBC News reported it could be submitted as soon as mid-February.

Late last week, several Democratic House committee chairs sent a letter to Barr stating "in the strongest possible terms, our expectation that the Department of Justice will release to the public the report Special Counsel Mueller submits to you — without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law."

Speaking with reporters last week, President Donald Trump said he had not spoken with Barr about the Mueller report.

Schiff pledged Sunday that his committee will "get to the bottom of this," adding "if the president is serious about all of his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of this report."

Mueller was hired as special counsel after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 to take over the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. The probe was later expanded to include whether Trump had obstructed justice in the Russia probe through moves such as his firing of Comey.

Several Trump associates and former campaign officials have been indicted or convicted as part of Mueller's investigation, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. In a separate investigation that stemmed from Mueller's work, Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen was convicted of a series of felonies, including campaign finance violations for hush-money payments he made to two women just prior to the 2016 presidential election to silence them about alleged past affairs with Trump.

So far, Mueller has not charged any Trump associates with crimes related to direct collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump has repeatedly blasted the investigation as a "witch hunt."

Asked what should be expected from Mueller's report, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe — another frequent target of Trump's attacks — told "This Week" on Sunday, "I think first and foremost what you can expect from Robert Mueller is an honest, independent assessment of the work that they’ve done. How much detail he chooses to go into to convey to the Department of Justice is a great question. I hope they lean on the detailed side. This is not a normal investigation by any evaluation. It's one that I think the department, Congress and the public have enormous interest in finding out just exactly what they learned."

In calling for the full report to be released, Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "everything about" the Mueller probe "has become political," and the only "way to end that is for the truth to be out there."

"The question of the Russian interference and the possibility of collusion by the president and his people has twisted our politics into something unrecognizable for the last two years, including behavior on the part of the president — attacking the FBI, attacking Bob Mueller,” said Himes, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.

In an interview with CBS News, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said 2019 "is going to be quite vitriolic" in American politics, which he said would be "triggered by the release of the Mueller report here in the next couple of weeks."

Bannon said he expects the report to contain "very little on Russian collusion."

"I think the bulk of the report will be obstruction of justice," he said. "And like I said, that depends on what your decision is about what the authority is of the president of the United States to make some of these decisions. I have a lot of respect for Bob Mueller. I will have to see how this report turns out."