The House Judiciary Committee voted toon his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The resolution passed Wednesday morning 24-17 on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting in the majority. The committee will also subpoena all underlying documents related to Mueller’s findings.
After the vote, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, told reporters the subpoena would not go out immediately. “We are going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time, in the hopes that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and all the underlying materials,” he said. “In very short order we’ll issue the subpoenas if that doesn’t work out.”
If the Justice Department does not release the grand jury material, Nadler will ask a judge to release it.
He also called upon Attorney General William Barr to testify before the May 2 date Barr has proposed.
In his opening statement, Nadler laid out the legal precedent for the claim on the documents, looking to the Watergate investigation into President Richard Nixon, the Starr Report into President Bill Clinton, and the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Ranking Member Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, countered that asking Barr to release grand jury materials is illegal. He also accused the majority Democrats of trying to paint a picture of innuendo before the full report is released, and he said that the proper thing to do would be to see what Barr releases and then ask for more material if that’s insufficient.
Republican members on the committee also claimed the resolution was a continuing effort to undermine the Trump presidency, with some claiming Democrats were pursuing the subpoenas as an attack on the president.
“As much as Democrats may hate the president, I would hope you love America more,” said Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck. He said that “if love trumps hate,” Democrats should afford the attorney general enough time to properly release the findings.
Meanwhile, as Democrats continue to push for transparency, President Trump pushed back, calling out Nadler for opposing the release of independent counsel Ken Starr’s report on the investigation of former President Clinton.
“With the NO COLLUSION Mueller Report, which the Dems hate, he wants it all. NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY THEM!” tweeted Mr. Trump on Tuesday.
Committee spokesman Daniel Schwarz said in a statement on Tuesday that the debate in 1998 “was not about Congress receiving evidence” but rather about “what type of material from the underlying evidence in the Starr report should be made public.”
“Our expectation is that Attorney General Barr will be as forthcoming now as Mr. Starr was in 1998,” added Schwarz, saying Barr “should provide the full Mueller report to Congress, with the underlying materials, at which point we will be in a better position to understand what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered during his investigation.”
The House already overwhelmingly voted 420-0 on a non-binding resolution to release the full Mueller report, but Sen. Lindsey Graham blocked a vote on the resolution in the Senate.
As a result of the resolution, Nadler’s committee will also issue subpoenas for a variety of Trump associates. They include former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House Counsel chief of staff Ann Donaldson.
They are being subpoenaed as part of the Judiciary Committee’s separate investigation into possible threats to the rule of law by the president.
“Because we may have to go to court to obtain the complete text of the special counsel’s report, and because the president may attempt to invoke executive privilege to withhold that evidence from us, it is imperative that the Committee take possession of these documents, and others, without delay,” explained Nadler.
The Department of Justice declined to comment about the House vote authorizing the subpoenas.
Rebecca Kaplan and Clare Hymes contributed to this report.
Highlights from the Judiciary Committee vote below:
Nadler pushes for report release
Speaking before Wednesday’s vote, Nadler said in his opening remarks that on multiple occasions, he asked Barr “to work with us to go to the court and obtain access to materials.” Nadler claimed however that Barr has “so far refused.”
“I will give him time to change his mind. But if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials. And if the Department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge—not the president or his political appointee—to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the Committee to review the complete record,” said Nadler.
Republicans blast committee probe
Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, meanwhile slammed the committee’s ongoing probe of the president and investigation, saying time would best be spent on issues like the crisis on the Southern border. Collins said the asks for further documents was “reckless, irresponsible and disingenuous.”
“What’s the rush? Spring break probably, we don’t want to wait until May,” Collins suggested of Nadler’s calls for subpoenas as Barr has vowed to testify before lawmakers in early May. He claimed Democrats were simply calling for the subpoenas of documents to make headlines after Mueller didn’t make a determination as to whether Mr. Trump committed obstruction of justice.
“This is great political theater,” he added, arguing that asking Barr to release any grand jury materials was illegal, citing potential national security issues.
GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado echoed Collins, saying the public release could “compromise intelligence sources and methods,” and he noted that Barr had previously expressed concerns about this to the committee.
“As much as Democrats may hate the president, I would hope you love America more,” said Buck. He said that “if love trumps hate” Democrats should afford the attorney general enough time to properly release the findings.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, meanwhile urged that Mueller also be subpoenaed, saying the committee should let Mueller speak about “whether or not he thinks the report he created should be disclosed without considerations of redactions of classified information.”
Fellow Texan Louie Gohmert, also a Republican, blasted Democrats, claiming they were the ones who had colluded with the Russian government. He called the ongoing probe an “outrageous assault on the office of the president, even after the truth has come out.”
“It’s time to go back and clean up the mess that’s been made,” added Gohmert.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida agreed with Gohmert, saying Democrats are in denial over Muller’s report, saying the report’s initial release is the the “death rattle of the Democrats’ Russian collusion lie.” He said they’re going through the “stages of grief” in real time over Mueller’s less-than-fruitful findings into obstruction of justice and collusion.