Special Counsel Robert Mueller speaks on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, at the US Justice Department in Washington, DC, on May 29, 2019. (Getty/Mandel Ngan)

Justice Department strikes deal to give House Democrats evidence obtained by Robert Mueller

The deal comes a day before the House was set to vote on whether to hold AG William Barr in contempt of Congress


Shira Tarlo
June 10, 2019 6:49PM (UTC)

The Department of Justice has agreed to provide Congress with some evidence collected by Robert Mueller that could zero in on possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, the House Judiciary Committee announced Monday.

The exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to turn over was not immediately clear.

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"These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the president by the special counsel," Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee chairman, said in a statement.

Nadler said he expected the department to begin sharing some of the material later Monday and noted that all members of the panel would be able to view the documents privately.

The development marks an unexpected breakthrough in the negotiations between the House Judiciary Committee and the White House over access to evidence obtained by Mueller throughout his nearly two-year investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 election, alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow and whether the president obstructed justice. 

Discussions between the Trump administration and the House Judiciary panel appeared to come to a halt last month after the committee voted along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena to turn over Mueller's full report and underlying evidence — material which members of the House Judiciary Committee said they need to conduct an obstruction of justice investigation into the president. Trump also asserted executive privilege over Mueller's findings on the attorney general's recommendation.

Nadler's announcement comes a day before the House is scheduled to vote on a resolution on whether to hold Barr and White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas related to Mueller's report. He said Monday that he would "hold the criminal contempt proceedings in abeyance for now."

If the Justice Department, Nadler added that "proceeds in good faith, and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps." But, if important information is held back, he said, "we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies."

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Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, praised the Justice Department for turning over the documents, which he said "debunks" claims the White House is stalling Congress in their oversight efforts.

"The Justice Department has yet again offered accommodations to House Democrats, and I am glad Chairman Nadler — for the first time in months — has finally met them at the negotiating table," Collins said in a statement. "In light of today's agreement from the Justice Department, it's logical to ask: Is the chairman prepared to rescind his baseless recommendation to hold the attorney general in contempt, or do House Democrats still plan to green-light lawsuits against the attorney general and former White House counsel tomorrow?"


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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