Majority Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to subpoena a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full unredacted report, along with supporting material, on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The move was condemned by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who asserted that the committee has now instructed Attorney General William Barr to “break the law.”
In remarks prepared for the vote, Collins said the law expressly forbids the AG from “providing grand jury material outside of the department, with very limited and narrow exceptions.”
“Congress is not one of those exceptions, and the chairman [Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.] knows it,” he said.
Barr announced last week that the Justice Department and the special counsel were “well along in the process of identifying and redacting” sensitive material in the report and expected to deliver a copy to Congress by mid-April, if not sooner.
Democrats, infuriated that the report found no collusion on the part of the 2016 Trump campaign, claimed they just wanted the same release of information that followed previous special counsel investigations. But Collins reminded them they are operating under a different law. And he noted Nadler previously argued that such information should not be released.
“In 1998, in the wake of the Starr report, the chairman described grand jury material has ‘material that by law – must be kept secret. It’s grand jury material. It represents statements which may or may not be true by various witnesses, salacious material, all kinds of material that it would be unfair to release,'” Collins said.
But he said the politics now are different. Democrats have been staging a years-long attack on President Trump, so Nadler has decided to “adopt new standards of fairness, ignore existing law and demand the material he once considered ‘unfair to release.'”
“It is a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and law that we cannot [see that material],” Collins said.
“In the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, the chairman demands our nation’s top law enforcement official break the law instead of supporting him in enforcing it,” the congressman said. “This is reckless. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous.”
He charged that Democrats are conducting “oversight via press release” and that Nadler’s effort is part of an overall political strategy to further attack Trump.
“Why is the chairman doing this? Because even full compliance from these individuals wouldn’t satisfy him. He wants to sue in federal court for these documents, even if he already has them. He’s picking the fight because fighting makes good headlines, and because his caucus is desperate for dirt on this president,” Collins said.
“Without facts on their side, Democrats have put all their hope in optics. There is no legislative purpose to these subpoenas, but there is a lesson. The chief and most fruitful charge of this committee is lawmaking, and no one waiting for immigration, criminal justice, or patent reform thinks it’s fair to see these issues neglected in exchange for subpoenaing Hope Hicks. Why do Democrats?”