Mueller report is more than 300 pages, AG tells top Democrat
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election spans more than 300 pages, a Justice Department official said Thursday.
Attorney General William Barr confirmed the report’s length during a Wednesday phone call with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
During that conversation, Barr said the Justice Department would miss House Democrats’ April 2 deadline to Congress Mueller’s full report, according to Nadler. Barr also refused to commit that he would make public “an unredacted, full report” the underlying documents and evidence Mueller collected during his 22,” Nadler said, adding that he was “not happy about that, to put it mildly.”
The report’s length sheds some light on why it’s expected to be several weeks still before Justice Department officials provide the report to Congress. But it also heightens concerns among Democrats worried that Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report, which he disclosed to Congress on Sunday, was too pithy to adequately address many of the special counsel’s full findings.
Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report indicates the special counsel did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 election. It offers no conclusion on whether the president sought to obstruct justice during the Russia probe.
Republicans have interpreted Barr’s summary as full vindication of the president. But Democrats insist they must see the full report, and the evidence that informed it, before anyone should conclude that Mueller’s findings acquit Trump of serious wrongdoing.
The report “doesn’t say they found no evidence of conclusion, that’s simply not true,” said House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has on several occasions said he believes there is serious evidence that Trump or his subordinates colluded with Russia, even if that evidence did not rise to the level of a criminal offense.
Schiff’s comments have inspired a backlash from Republicans in the wake of Barr’s summary. On Thursday, GOP members on the House Intelligence Committee formally called on Schiff to step down as chairman, submitting a letter they all signed declaring they had “no faith” in his ability to lead them.
“You’ve been at the center of a well-orchestrated media campaign, claiming, among other things, that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government,” Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said to Schiff at the start of a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, reading from a letter that all nine Republican members of the panel signed calling for his resignation.
“The findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and have exposed you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information, having damaged the integrity of this Committee, and undermined faith in U.S. government institutions,” the letter said.
Last year, the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee wrote a report stating that over a year-long investigation, they had found no evidence that President Trump colluded with the Russian government.
Schiff launched a new intelligence committee investigation into alleged collusion and money laundering when he took over as chairman earlier this year. He has pledged in the days since Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings was released to continue that probe, and argued that it is imperative that lawmakers see Mueller’s full report and the evidence that informed it.
On Wednesday, Trump joined the chorus of Republican voices calling for Schiff to step aside, arguing that he should not only be removed as the intelligence committee chairman, but be removed from Congress.
During an interview Wednesday with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump said Schiff “should be forced out of office. He is a disgrace to our country.” He later added on Twitter that Schiff “should be forced to resign from Congress.”
Republicans in Congress have stopped short of calling for Schiff to lose his congressional seat. But the campaign to unseat him as chairman began Monday, as the president’s top advisers and congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called on him to resign.
Schiff has pushed back against those calls, and Democrats have rallied around him. On Thursday, he defended his claims that there was evidence of collusion, charging that Republican “might think it’s okay” that Russians tried to sway the election, or that Trump’s associates entertained those entreaties.
“I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay, and the day we do think that is okay is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way,” Schiff said – adding that even more than collusion, he was concerned that the president, through such contacts, might be compromised.
Conaway rejected Schiff’s characterization, saying nothing in their letter “could remotely be interpreted” as a signal that the GOP was trying to defend Trump’s actions or thought they were okay, but was simply a statement of no confidence in Schiff’s continued leadership.
House Democrats have long accused Republicans of using the investigations they ran over the past two years to defend the president and undermine the federal law enforcement agents investigating him.
Barr agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee “reasonably soon” to discuss Mueller’s report, Nadler said Wednesday. He is already expected on Capitol Hill for a budget hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on April 9.