United States House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued a subpoena on Friday for the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"I have issued a subpoena to the Department of Justice for the full version of the Mueller report and the underlying evidence. The Department is required to comply with that subpoena by May 1," Nadler said in a statement.
"I am open to working with the Department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials, however, I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability," the Democrat added.
Nadler's subpoena comes less than a day after US Attorney General William Barr released the redacted version of the Mueller's 448-page report to the public.
In the report, Mueller did not conclude that President Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either.
Barr subsequently concluded that Trump had not broken the law, but told a news conference that Mueller had detailed "10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offence".
Mueller reported that Trump had been agitated at the special counsel probe from its earliest days, reacting to Mueller's appointment by saying it was the "end of his presidency".
In June 2017, Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to tell the then-acting attorney general that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed, the report said.
McGahn refused to carry out Trump's order to fire Mueller "for fear of being seen as triggering another 'Saturday night massacre'", referring to a term used during Nixon's Watergate scandal.
The report also said there was "substantial evidence" that Trump fired James Comey as FBI director in 2017 due to his "unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation".
As for the question of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mueller wrote, "While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges."
|Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as released [Jon Elswick/AP Photo]|
Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a "witch-hunt" and "hoax". On Friday, he said it was "not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the 'report' about me, some of which are total bull**** & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad). This was an illegally Started Hoax that never should have never happened."
'Falls to Congress to determine next steps'
The Democrats and other critics have slammed Barr for his handling of the rollout of the report.
Last month, days after receiving the report from Mueller, Barr issued his own four-page summary Mueller's report.
On Thursday, before releasing the redacted version, Barr gave a spirited defence of Trump, emphasising that Mueller found no collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement after the redacted report's release, claiming Barr "deliberately distorted significant portions" of Mueller's report.
"Special Counsel Mueller's report paints a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behaviour and acting as if the law doesn't apply to him," the top Democrats said. "But if you hadn't read the report and listened only to Mr Barr, you wouldn't have known any of that because Mr Barr has been so misleading."
The House Judiciary Committee authorised the subpoena on April 3 in a party-line vote, but Nadler waited to issue it to give Barr "time to change his mind" and work with Congress.
"My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice," Nadler said on Friday.
"Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates," he added. "It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward."
The Justice Department dismissed the subpoena, calling it "premature and unnecessary" in a statement on Friday.
“The Department will continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long-recognised executive branch interests," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies