At 5:00 pm on Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced there would be no more indictments as he was concluding his 22-month investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The reaction was tremendous. What could this mean for President Trump? His administration? The validity of the 2016 presidential election? It seemed without an indictment of Trump or his family members or senior members of his investigation that he is innocent and Democrats were not ready to accept this reality.
Trump had to have done something illegal, they claimed, so they are demanding to see what Mueller wrote in his final report.
Now, the fate of the final report rests in Attorney General William Barr’s hands but House Democrats want it in theirs and threatened to issue subpoenas to make this happen, the Associated Press reports:
Within minutes of receiving notification that special counsel Robert Mueller had turned over his report on the Russia investigation, congressional Democrats were calling for the report to be fully released, including the underlying evidence. They have threatened subpoenas if it is not.
The demands are setting up a potential tug of war between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump’s administration that federal judges might eventually have to referee.
Six Democratic committee chairmen wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Friday that if Mueller has any reason to believe that Trump “has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct,” then the Justice Department should not conceal it.
In the letter, the chairmen wrote: “The president is not above the law and the need for public faith in our democratic institutions and the rule of law must be the priority.”
Democrats want everything including any dirt the investigation may have dug up on Trump.
But—according to the Associated Press—the Justice Department may not release “derogatory information” on a person who was not charged in the investigation, including the president.
“Lawmakers say they need the underlying evidence — including interviews, documents and material turned over to the grand jury — because the Justice Department has maintained that a president cannot be indicted, and also that derogatory information cannot be released about people who have not been charged. So if the investigation did find evidence incriminating against Trump, they may not be able to release it, under their own guidelines,” the report continued.
Barr addressed some of these concerns in a letter he wrote to leaders in the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
“I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” Barr wrote in the letter.
“Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies,” the attorney general continued. “I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review.”
Democrats have threatened to subpoena the report and individuals should the final report not be released, the Associated Press reports:
But anything less than the full report won’t be enough for Democrats.
“If the AG plays any games, we will subpoena the report, ask Mr. Mueller to testify, and take it all to court if necessary,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y. “The people deserve to know.”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff told CNN Friday that he’s willing to subpoena Mueller and Barr, if needed, to push for disclosure.
Though Trump himself has said the report should be made public, it’s not clear whether the administration would fight subpoenas for testimony or block the transmission of grand jury material.
If the administration decides to fight, lawmakers could ask federal courts to step in and enforce a subpoena. A court fight could, in theory, reach the Supreme Court. But few tussles between Congress and the White House get that far. They often are resolved through negotiation.