A Florida Republican member of Congress did not pull punches in a new opinion piece where he blasted the Democrats for their treatment of Attorney General William Barr in their attempts at obtaining Robert Mueller’s unredacted report into Russian election interference.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner on Monday, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) clobbered congressional Democrats as “stoop[ing] to a new low in their witch-hunt of President [Donald] Trump” for holding Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to release the unredacted Mueller report.
If the attorney general had released the unredacted report, he would have “violat[ed] federal law.”
Webster praised Barr as having “gone above and beyond” in his transparency of Mueller’s findings “from the beginning,” such as releasing a “minimally redacted version of the Mueller report” to the public, not claiming “executive privileges” on the findings, and “invit[ing]” congressional leaders to view a “98.5% unredacted” version of the probe’s conclusions.
“Following this release, Republican and Democrat leaders in Congress were invited to view a copy of the confidential report that is 98.5% unredacted along with Volume 2 which only has six lines blacked out.”
“These lines must remain redacted in accordance with federal law to protect grand jury information,” added the Florida Republican.
Webster continued on to point out that attorneys for the Justice Department are “prohibited from disclosing matters related to grand jury proceedings under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)” and that the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution provided a “constitutional obligation to ensure that secret grand jury information remains secret.”
He then torched the Democrats for not reviewing the nearly full report, claiming that “it appears not a single Democratic member has chosen to review it.”
“In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and [House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold] Nadler have refused to review this report,” said Webster. “This is puzzling, considering they claim a need to review the unredacted material immediately.”
Webster continued to pummel congressional Democrats for the “additional demands that violate laws, procedure and committee process” they have given in response to the Department of Justice offers of viewing the “minimally-unredacted report and the accompanying documents.”
He then trashed the Democrats’ demand “that Barr allow himself to be questioned by an unelected, unaccountable committee staff member during an official committee meeting” as being something out of “a banana republic” before slamming them as being “upset that [Barr] will not bend or break the law” to meet their “absurd” demands.
“The law is on Barr’s side. He is a good man, who has dedicated his life to upholding the laws of the United States and he continues to do so,” said Webster. “Democrats are upset that he will not bend or break the law, so they decided to hold him in contempt for faithfully upholding his constitutional duty.”
“It is absurd,” he added before calling for an “end” to the “unfounded partisan witch-hunt.”
“Democrats are making a mockery of our congressional oversight authority and committee proceedings,” Webster proclaimed. “The American people deserve better.”
Last week, Barr appointed U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham to head-up an investigation into how the Department of Justice went about obtaining a FISA warrant to launch a probe into the alleged conspiracy between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government to win the election.
Webster’s office has not yet responded to IJR Red’s request for comment regarding Durham’s investigation.
As IJR News previously reported, earlier this month Nadler “suggested” bundling contempt citations for Trump administration officials into one large resolution for the House of Representatives to vote on.
UPDATE [5/21/19, 9:59 a.m. EST]: Following the publication of this article, Rep. Webster expanded upon his sentiment in a statement to IJR.
“The actions under the previous administration to use a document developed by a foreign intelligence operative, paid for by a political organization, and used by the FBI to secretly surveil an American citizen and campaign is troubling. I am pleased Attorney General Barr is taking this seriously and conducting an investigation. Our intelligence community has vast access to information, unique tools to extract and amass data and incredible power; it is paramount that every intelligence agency and official be held to the highest standard of integrity.”