By Jon Dougherty
On Sunday, a top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said that Attorney General William Barr was given a Monday morning deadline to produce the entire unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, or face a charge of contempt of Congress.
But once again, this is nothing more than a cheap political stunt by Democrats who have already been provided a far-less-redacted version of the report — that they refuse to review.
On Sunday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Fox News‘ Chris Wallace that Judiciary chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave Barr some “additional compromises” over the weekend, such as producing “all of the documents but prioritize all of those that are referenced in the report” to “give us an opportunity to see the unredacted version.”
If Barr does not comply — and by law, he is not automatically required to provide the special counsel’s report to Congress, much less the full unredacted version — Cicilline said he believes Nadler “will move forward with a contempt citation.”
Cicilline tried to claim that the committee was simply attempting to fulfill its “oversight” role, but if that were that the case, then why haven’t any Democrats bothered to review a less-redacted version of the Mueller report that Barr has graciously made available to them?
As Politico reported last week:
On the eve of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony on a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, only two lawmakers have set eyes on secret information that Barr withheld from public view.
Barr offered access to a less-redacted version of the report to just 12 members of Congress — six Democrats and six Republicans. But as of Tuesday afternoon, only Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opted to view it. A third, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he planned to review the report later Tuesday.
The Justice Department blasted Democrats for refusing to take up the AG’s offer. Per Fox News:
Justice Department officials chided congressional Democrats this week for ignoring a less-redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report made available to them, even as they pursue a subpoena for the full document and accuse the department of stonewalling.
The DOJ released a statement hours after Attorney General William Barr had testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than five hours, answering questions about the department’s handling of the report’s release last month. Along with a letter denying access to the completely unredacted report and other files, the statement said that Democrats, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., had “refused” so far to review a version of the report with far fewer redactions.
“The Attorney General also voluntarily released the Special Counsel’s confidential report with minimal redactions to Congress and the public, made an even-less redacted report available to Chairman Nadler and congressional leadership (which they have refused to review), and made himself available to the Committee by volunteering to testify this week,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, in the letter to Nadler last week, added that the less-redacted version already available to key members “would permit review of 98.5 percent of the report, including 99.9 percent of Volume II, which discusses the investigation of the President’s actions.”
“Regrettably, before even reviewing the less-redacted version or awaiting the Attorney General’s testimony, you served a subpoena …” he wrote. “You served such a subpoena knowing that the Department could not lawfully provide the unredacted report, that the Committee lacks any legitimate legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files, and that processing your requests would impose a significant burden on the Department.”
During his interview, Wallace brought up the fact that Republicans held Obama’s AG, Eric Holder, in contempt in 2012, but nothing came of it: The Justice Department declined to prosecute and a federal court declined to enforce the contempt order.
At the time, Wallace pointed out, Cicilline walked the floor of the House claiming he “declined to participate in these partisan games,” which he called an “abuse of power” (Holder repeatedly declined to provide subpoenaed documents to Congress related to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal after a federal agent was killed with one of the guns — see this Obama-Biden Scandal Series video).
“Congressman, aren’t you and Democrats now involved in the same political games?” Wallace asked a stonefaced Cicilline.
Naturally, Cicilline claimed that the two cases “are quite different.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10