A top U.S. House Democrat vowed on Wednesday to go to court quickly in his quest to obtain the full, unredacted Mueller report on Russian election interference, saying lawmakers would not be made “fools” of by an offer by the Trump administration to negotiate over the document.
Pushing ahead on one of numerous investigations under way in Congress of President Donald Trump and his administration, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he expects to ask a federal court soon to enforce his April 19 subpoena for the Mueller report and underlying material.
An approach to the court will come as soon as possible after a vote in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, Nadler said.
“I anticipate that it will be very quick. There may be an appeal and we’ll ask for an expedited appeal,” Nadler told reporters on Capitol Hill.
The Judiciary Committee approved a contempt citation against Barr on May 8, on a party-line vote. That was after the attorney general defied the panel’s subpoena and refused to appear for a hearing on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign, and Trump’s efforts to impede the probe.
With Democrats in control of the House, the contempt citation could be approved with no Republican support. But on its own, such a citation may have little impact on an administration that is stonewalling congressional inquiries.
To make the subpoena stick, court action likely will be needed. Nadler predicted a court victory after recent court rulings that upheld congressional subpoenas of Trump financial records from the accounting firm Mazars LLP, Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. Trump has appealed those rulings.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department offered to negotiate for the release of material on condition that the House drop its contempt action against Barr, an offer that Nadler rejected.
“We’re not fools,” he said. “We’ve seen this movie before, where they negotiate in bad faith. They make ridiculous offers, they waste time. We negotiate in good faith.”
Justice Department officials were not immediately available for comment.
The full House will also vote Tuesday on whether to hold former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt for deferring to a White House direction that he not provide documents and testimony to Nadler’s committee. Other former Trump aides could also face contempt citations.
Nadler told reporters that Mueller will ultimately appear before his committee, possibly as the result of a subpoena. “Let’s just say that I’m confident he’ll come in,” he said.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Leslie Adler)