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Top Democrats to AG Barr: DOJ Must Provide Unredacted Mueller Report to Congress

Washington – Today, top House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr following his testimony before the House and Senate appropriations committees reasserting their expectation for the full, unredacted Mueller report, along with the underlying evidence, to be provided to Congress. The letter, signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),  House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), also urges the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work with them to find an accommodation on providing the full report from the Special Counsel, with the underlying materials, to the relevant committees.     

A full copy of the letter can be found here and below:

April 11, 2019

The Honorable William P. Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Barr:

We have received your recent letters regarding the Special Counsel’s report.  We have also reviewed your testimony before the House and Senate appropriations committees on April 9 and 10.  We write to you now, in advance of your expected release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, to restate two important points.

First, as a matter of law, Congress is entitled to the full report—without redactions—as well as the underlying evidence.  We require that information in order to discharge our constitutional obligations:  to develop and pass legislation and to conduct thorough oversight of the Executive Branch.  These responsibilities are most acute where they involve the alleged misconduct of the President of the United States.  Indeed, because you have told us on several occasions that you will not indict the President for obstruction of justice and related crimes, it now falls to Congress to examine the President’s conduct and, if necessary, to hold him accountable.

Second, the Department of Justice has an obligation to work with the relevant committees of the House and Senate to reach an accommodation on the full report and the underlying materials.  Since your March 22 letter announcing the end of the Mueller investigation, our senior Members have written to you on numerous occasions.  We have asked reasonable questions and raised legitimate concerns about your handling of this report.  So far, we have received no direct response, and you have made no effort to work with us to accommodate our concerns.  This work should not wait until after you have provided a redacted report.  It should start now.

You have outlined four kinds of information that you plan to redact from this report: grand jury information, classified information, information that may impede an ongoing investigation, and information that may affect the privacy and reputational interests of third parties.  We acknowledge that there may be legitimate reasons for withholding some of this information from public view.

As recent precedent makes clear, however, the Department of Justice has no legitimate reason for withholding these materials from Congress.  In every other instance where a federal grand jury was used to probe the alleged misconduct of a sitting president—namely, in the Watergate and Starr investigations—the Department of Justice worked with the relevant federal court to release the grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee.  That has not happened in this instance, despite numerous direct requests, nor have you provided us with any legitimate reason for failing to follow the Department’s precedent. 

With regard to the other areas of possible redaction noted in your March 29 letter, we note that the Department of Justice and the FBI provided nearly one million pages of material to the committees of jurisdiction related to a long list of largely discredited conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and about the origins of the Special Counsel’s investigation—while that probe was ongoing.  These documents included highly classified information, information and investigative records related directly to ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigations, and reams of information that directly impacted the “privacy and reputational interests of third parties.”  The Department also made dozens of line personnel available for transcribed interviews.  We expect that you will be just as forthcoming with us now and, accordance with those precedents, promptly produce each of these categories of information to Congress, as requested.

Finally, we would be remiss not to express profound concern about your comments before the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding your apparent review of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.  Your testimony raises questions about your independence, appears to perpetuate a partisan narrative designed to undermine the work of the Special Counsel, and serves to legitimize President Trump’s dangerous attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI. 

We renew our request to work together prior to any release to ensure that Congress receives the full report and all of the underlying evidence.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.