WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has agreed to turn over some of the underlying evidence from
special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, including files used to assess whether President Donald Trump
obstructed justice, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Monday.
In the first breakthrough in weeks of negotiations over the report, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said the
department will begin complying with the committee’s subpoena on Monday and provide some of Mueller’s
"most important files." He said all members of the committee will be able to view them.
The Justice Department did not have an immediate comment.
In response to the agreement, Nadler said Democrats would not vote on holding Attorney General William
Barr in criminal contempt, for now. Instead, the House will vote Tuesday on a resolution that would
empower the Judiciary Committee to file a civil lawsuit for Mueller materials.
"We have agreed to allow the Department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement,"
Nadler said in a statement. "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."
The deal is unlikely to give Democrats all of what they were requesting — including an unredacted version
of the report and secret grand jury testimony. But it is the first agreement that the Judiciary
Committee has been able to strike with the department since the report was issued in April.
The news came shortly before Democrats began the first in a series of hearings intended to focus public
attention on the findings of the Russia investigation. John Dean, a star witness from Watergate who
helped bring down Richard Nixon’s presidency, will testify Monday. The hearing, which will also feature
former U.S. attorneys, is on "presidential obstruction and other crimes."
Dean, a White House counsel during Nixon’s administration, told CNN on Monday that he’ll describe
"how strikingly like Watergate what we’re seeing now, as reported in the Mueller report, is."
He said he’ll pay particular attention to the question of whether Trump obstructed justice.
The slate of televised sessions on Mueller’s report means a new, intensified focus on the Russia probe
and puts it on an investigative "path" — in the words of anti-impeachment Speaker Nancy Pelosi
— that some Democrats hope leads to Trump’s impeachment. In doing so, they are trying to aim a spotlight
on allegations that Trump sought to obstruct a federal investigation as well as his campaign’s contacts
with Russia in the 2016 election.
And they will lay the groundwork for an appearance from Mueller himself, despite his stated desire to
Monday’s hearing is the start of three days of Russia-related action on Capitol Hill. The House
Intelligence Committee on Wednesday intends to review the counterintelligence implications of the
Russian meddling. Mueller said there was not enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between the Trump
campaign and Russia, but he said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction.
On Tuesday, the House has scheduled the vote to authorize lawsuits against Barr and former White House
counsel Donald McGahn for failing to comply with subpoenas from the Democratic-controlled House. The
vote will put the full House on record approving the lawsuits, if leaders and committees decide they
want to move forward with them.
Barr had defied a subpoena to provide an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, along with underlying
evidence. McGahn, who is frequently referenced in the report, has defied subpoenas to provide documents
and testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
Language in the resolution also would make it easier for committee chairmen to take the Trump
administration to court. The chairmen could take legal action to enforce subpoenas in the future without
a vote of the full House, so long as the chairmen have approval from a five-person, bipartisan group
where Democrats have the majority.
With Trump pledging that "we’re fighting all the subpoenas," Democratic leaders want to avoid
repeated floor votes on contempt resolutions that would detract from their legislative agenda.
The procession of hearings and votes in the week ahead is partly designed to mollify anxious Democrats
who have pushed Pelosi, D-Calif., to begin impeachment proceedings immediately. Pelosi has rejected that
option, preferring a slower, more methodical approach to investigating the president, including the
court fights and hearings.
During a meeting with Nadler and other committee heads last week, Pelosi made the case that she would
rather see Trump voted out of office and "in prison" than merely impeached, according to a
report in Politico. A person familiar with the exchange confirmed the account to The Associated Press.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, one of a handful of members who pleaded with Pelosi last month to start an
inquiry, said the votes and hearings are going to be enough, for now, as they wait to see what happens
"I am very satisfied that things are moving in the right direction," Raskin said. "And I
think the American people are getting increasingly educated and engaged about the lawlessness of the
Educating the American public on what is in the Mueller report is a priority for Democrats, who believe
Trump and his allies have created the public impression that the report said there was no obstruction of
justice. Trump has made that assertion repeatedly, echoing Barr’s judgment that there was not enough
evidence in the report to support a criminal obstruction charge. Mueller said in the report that he
could not exonerate Trump on that point.
The special counsel did not find evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and
Russia. But the report details multiple contacts between the two.
Republicans are poised to defend the president at the hearings and challenge Democrats on the decision
not to open impeachment hearings.
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, sent Nadler a letter
Friday calling the upcoming hearing a "mock impeachment hearing" and warning Democrats to be
civil when speaking of the president.
Collins said in the letter that outside of impeachment proceedings, "it is out of order for a member
of Congress, in debate, to engage in personalities with the president or express an opinion, even a
third party opinion, accusing the president of a crime. The rules are clear on this point."