House Democrats to get more Mueller
evidence, Trump calls witness 'sleazebag'
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[June 11, 2019]
By Andy Sullivan and Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional
Democrats on Monday struck a rare deal in their wide-ranging probes of
President Donald Trump, with the U.S. Justice Department agreeing to
hand over more evidence from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia
The compromise, an unusual retreat by Trump in his months-long
stonewalling campaign against House Democrats, came just before a House
panel heard testimony for more than four hours from John Dean, a
historic figure from the Watergate era.
Before Dean spoke to the House Judiciary Committee, Trump took the
opportunity on Twitter to slam the former White House counsel under
President Richard Nixon as a "sleazebag attorney." Nixon resigned the
presidency in disgrace in 1974.
Dean told the panel there were parallels between Mueller's investigative
report, released in redacted form in mid-April, and a 1974 document,
known as the Watergate Road Map, in which a special prosecutor laid out
the case against Nixon.
"Mueller has provided this committee with a road map," said Dean, who
was part of a panel of witnesses.
Mueller's report found Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential
election and that Trump's election campaign had multiple contacts with
Russian officials. But the report found insufficient evidence to
establish a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Moscow.
The report also outlined 10 instances in which Trump tried to interfere
with Mueller's investigation but declined to make a judgment on whether
that amounted to obstruction of justice.
As part of his effort to uncover more of Mueller's findings, Judiciary
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced that his panel will get some
of the evidence related to Trump's attempts to interfere with Mueller's
probe from the Justice Department.
The committee will not see a full, unredacted copy of Mueller's report
under the agreement, said Nadler, a Democrat. But lawmakers will get
access to interview notes and other evidence, including "first-hand
accounts of misconduct," Nadler said at the outset of the hearing.
The hearing, one in a series still to come on the Mueller report,
occurred amid continuing discussion among House of Representatives
Democrats about whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Nadler said that under the deal with Justice he will hold off on a
threat to bring criminal contempt charges against U.S. Attorney General
William Barr. For weeks Barr has resisted a subpoena from Nadler's
committee for a full, unredacted version of Mueller's 448-page final
report and underlying evidence.
[to top of second column]
Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate
scandal that toppled former President Richard Nixon, arrives to
testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing hearing entitled
"Lessons from the Mueller Report" on Capitol Hill in Washington
U.S., June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The Justice Department will continue to cooperate with the
committee, under their agreement, as long as Democrats hold off on
the contempt vote, Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
The Democratic-controlled House will vote as previously planned on
Tuesday on a measure that would increase pressure on Trump by
authorizing the committee to sue the administration in federal court
if needed over access to the report.
Nadler said a lawsuit may yet be necessary and added that Tuesday's
vote may force former White House counsel Don McGahn, a central
figure in Mueller's report, to testify. McGahn resigned his White
House post in August 2018.
Mueller's investigation is part of a broad fight between Trump and
congressional Democrats, who are investigating his policies, conduct
in office and private businesses. Trump has vowed to fight
Barr has said he is required by law not to release evidence obtained
from grand jury proceedings, and grand jury materials were redacted
from the section of the report dealing with Russian interference in
the election. But this was less of a concern for the section of
Mueller's report dealing with obstruction, which was based on
testimony from voluntary interviews Trump advisers and other
witnesses gave to Mueller, rather than grand jury testimony.
Representative Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House
Judiciary Committee, said the agreement indicated the Trump
administration was not stonewalling Congress, adding that Democrats
should focus on the threat from Russia.
"Democrats are abandoning their duty to confront foreign
interference in our elections in favor of drawing out their
slanderous campaign against the president," he said.
In related news, the House Oversight Committee said on Monday it
plans to vote on Wednesday on whether to hold Barr and Commerce
Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for stonewalling a
probe into an alleged scheme to politicize the 2020 U.S. Census.
(Additional reporting by Makini Brice; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh,
Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)
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