(Bloomberg) -- Democrats demanded that Attorney General William Barr provide Congress with unclassified access to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s entire report along with underlying evidence on Sunday, vowing to take the challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said providing Congress with anything less would be equivalent to a “cover-up” and subvert the legislative branch of the government from holding the president accountable, a fight the party is willing to take to the nation’s highest court.
“Once you say that a president can not be indictable no matter the evidence as a matter of law, to then follow the principle that you can’t then comment on the evidence or publicize it is to convert that into a cover-up,” Nadler told “Fox News Sunday,” one of three television appearances for the morning.
“If that is the case, and they can’t hold him accountable, the only institution that can hold a president accountable is Congress, and Congress, therefore, needs the evidence and the information,” he said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rallying Democratic lawmakers to deliver a unified message demanding Mueller’s report be unclassified and made public in full, as congressional leaders await a summary of his findings from the Justice Department, possibility as early as Sunday afternoon or evening.
Pelosi and six top committee leaders held what they termed an emergency conference call on Saturday with Democratic House members. The call provided no new insight on Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether anyone in President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with that effort, according to lawmakers who took part.
The heads of the committees primarily involved in investigations of the Trump administration led the discussion, including Nadler and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. The major thrust followed what Pelosi had earlier in the day outlined in a “Dear Colleague” letter -- that Congress must see the full report, plus its underlying documents and findings.
Several congressional Democrats made the rounds of political talk shows Sunday amplifying the message that they are ready to subpoena the full report and underlying documents, or even to obtain testimony or a briefing from Mueller, Barr or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“That report needs to be made public ASAP, so we can evaluate the body of evidence on the issue of conspiracy and look at why Bob Muller decided not to indict,” Schiff said on CBS "Face the Nation" Sunday.
“It is not going to be satisfactory for the attorney general of the Justice Department to brief eight of us, the so-called Gang of Eight, in a classified setting and say, ‘OK, we discharged our obligation, we don’t have to tell the rest of the country anything,”’ he said. “That’s not going to fly.”
Democrats are attempting to keep pressure on Trump with their own investigations into his actions as president and his business dealings before taking office. But neither they nor Republicans know yet whether the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation will accelerate or tamp down further probes.
Pelosi said transparency is even more urgent given Barr’s letter on Friday that he may advise certain lawmakers this weekend on the “principal conclusions” from Mueller’s 22-month investigation.
“We are insisting that any briefings to any Committees be unclassified so that Members can speak freely about every aspect of the report and not be confined to what DOJ chooses to release publicly,” Pelosi said in her letter.
Barr is planning to release his summary of Mueller’s findings as early as Sunday, according to a Justice Department official. Pelosi said Congress must get Mueller’s entire report so that the relevant committees can proceed with oversight and with potential legislation to address any issues the investigation may raise.
--With assistance from Kasia Klimasinska, Chris Strohm, Anna Edgerton and Hailey Waller.
To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at email@example.com;Ben Brody in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kasia Klimasinska at email@example.com, Joe Sobczyk, Ros Krasny
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.