The Justice Department agreed Monday to give the House Judiciary Committee key evidence from the special counsel report related to allegations President Donald Trump obstructed the investigation, on the eve of a scheduled floor vote to authorize legal action to enforce two committee subpoenas.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the DOJ will share the documents Monday, and all committee members from both parties will be able to view them. The move means he will not move forward on criminal contempt against Attorney General William Barr, and give the Justice Department time to comply with the agreement.
“If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”
The latest twist in the high-profile negotiations over documents related to the nearly two-year long Robert S. Mueller III-led investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election comes as the House escalated its efforts to enforce subpoenas against Barr for the full special counsel report and former White House Counsel Don McGahn for related documents.
House Democrats last week announced that the full chamber would vote Tuesday to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt of Congress as part of the process to file a civil lawsuit, but then released a resolution that would authorize the Judiciary panel to pursue the lawsuits but does not mention contempt for Barr or McGahn.
“We are pleased the Committee has agreed to set aside its contempt resolution and is returning to the traditional accommodation process,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. “The Department of Justice remains committed to appropriately accommodating Congress’s legitimate interests related to the Special Counsel’s Investigation and will continue to do so provided the previously voted-upon resolution does not advance.”
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee’s top Republican, said he was glad Nadler “finally met them at the negotiating table” and “further debunks claims that the White House is stonewalling Congress.”
“In light of today’s agreement from the Justice Department, it’s logical to ask: Is the chairman prepared to rescind his baseless recommendation to hold the attorney general in contempt, or do House Democrats still plan to green light lawsuits against the attorney general and former White House counsel tomorrow?” Collins said in a news release.
The House is still expected to consider the resolution on Tuesday, Nadler tweeted.
Nadler later Monday said that the documents are evidence that underlies the Mueller report, including interview notes and first-hand accounts of misconduct.
And he said the agreement doesn’t extend to the full scope of the request for the full Mueller report, as well as the demand that McGahn testify before the committee.
That’s why the House will consider a resolution to authorize the committee’s subpoenas through civil litigation.
“It is my expectation that, as a result of this authorization, Mr. McGahn will testify here before long,” Nadler said.
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