Democratic efforts to compel the release of the Mueller report to Congress from the Department of Justice ended as expected on Wednesday, but not without vocal pushback from Republicans.
A meeting of the House Judiciary Committee resulted in a party-line 24-17 vote to authorize a subpoena of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of his investigation and all the underlying evidence from Attorney General William Barr.
“Why are we here?” asked Judiciary member and Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “Seems to me we’re here because the Mueller report wasn’t what the Democrats thought it was going to be.”
“In fact, it was just the opposite,” Jordan continued. “What’d the attorney general tell us that the principal findings of Mr. Mueller’s report were? No new indictments, no sealed indictments, no collusion, no obstruction.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also called out Democratic efforts to keep digging into the issue, despite the findings of the Mueller report.
“Enough is enough, for heaven’s sakes, let’s please move on,” Gohmert said, before turning his critiques directly to committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
“There was a time when I loved and appreciated the current chairman’s desire to protect privacy rights; I saw that dramatically eroded during the Obama administration,” Gohmert continued. “But I am still hoping and praying that our now-chairman’s once great desire to protect privacy rights and to try to hold back the bounds of what Orwell described as happening now … it’s time to go back and clean up the mess that’s been made over years of abuse.”
The committee’s top Republican took issue with Democrats’ demand for underlying evidence, saying that Barr would have to violate federal law to comply with it.
“The subpoena for the Mueller report and its underlying evidence commands the attorney general to do what the unthinkable is,” said committee ranking member Doug Collins. “We’re going to ask the attorney general to break his regulations, to break the law.”
“The attorney general’s entire mandate is to enforce the law, and he’s expressly forbidden from providing grand jury [material] outside of the department, [with] very limited and narrow exceptions,” Collins added. “Congress is not one of the exceptions and the chairman knows it.”
A few weeks ago, the House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to make as much of the report public as possible, though a small handful of Republicans objected to the resolution by voting “present.”
Barr told congressional leaders last week that he plans to release what he can of the report and that he expects his department “will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner.”
In his opening statement, Nadler said that he won’t issue the report right away, but will instead give Barr a chance to “change his mind” about whether to send a redacted or unredacted report to Congress.