- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that she would reject any efforts by the Justice Department to offer a classified briefing to congressional leaders on the special counsel’s final report on the Russia investigation.
- Pelosi expressed concern that Attorney General William Barr may try to brief just a handful of top Senate and House Republicans and Democrats in an attempt to avoid public release of the report’s findings.
- Democrats are pushing for the full public release of the report, and for all relevant “underlying evidence” to be provided to congressional committees.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that she would reject any attempts by the Justice Department to provide a highly classified briefing on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to congressional leaders.
Pelosi argued in a Saturday afternoon phone call with Democrats that a classified briefing could be an attempt to avoid public release of the probe’s findings, Politico reported. She expressed concern that Attorney General William Barr may try to brief just a handful of top Senate and House Republicans and Democrats, known as the Gang of Eight.
Democrats have consistently held that Mueller’s report should be released publicly in full. They’re also pushing for the release of all relevant “underlying evidence,” including information that could be damaging to the president, to congressional committees for the purpose of their investigations into potential obstruction of justice and other abuses committed by the president.
During the Saturday call, two top House Democrats reportedly cited Republican demands for underlying documents in the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server as precedent for their requests. Republicans were ultimately successful in making public thousands of documents, including FBI agents’ text messages and emails, in an effort to shed light on the agency’s handling of the Clinton investigation.
Democrats are concerned that DOJ will refuse to release potentially damaging information about unindicted targets of the probe, including the president. DOJ policy holds that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.
Democrats expect a summary of the special counsel investigation to be sent to Congress on Sunday or Monday.
In a letter released ahead of the call, Pelosi wrote, “Even if DOJ chooses not to prosecute addition individuals, the underlying findings must be provided to Congress and the American people. The Attorney General’s offer to provide the Committees with a summary of the report’s conclusions is insufficient. Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise.”
Soon after Barr informed Congress and the public that Mueller had concluded his investigation on Friday evening, the chairs of six top House committees in the House released a statement demanding that Barr publicly release the “entire report.”
“This report is required under the Special Counsel regulations, and we expect the Attorney General to release it without delay given the profound public interest in the full disclosure of information learned by the Special Counsel,” they wrote.