The Justice Department announced late Thursday that it will provide lawmakers with a second version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that has fewer redactions starting next week, after cries of protest from Democrats who suggested Attorney General Bill Barr was withholding key information.
Barr determined that it was “appropriate” to share the “less-redacted version” of the report with Congress, but only in a secure and confidential setting, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to lawmakers. The Justice Department said it will make the report available to House and Senate leaders, as well as the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, beginning on April 22.
Within minutes of the report’s publication, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., charged that the special counsel had provided “disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice” and, referencing the report’s limited redactions, finished with a tantalizing flourish: “Imagine what remains hidden from our view.”
Nader immediately called on Mueller himself to testify, and top Republicans, including Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Barr, said they would have no objections to him doing so.
DOJ attorneys had worked with Mueller’s team to redact legally sensitive matters concerning classified information, ongoing investigations, unnecessary personal information and grand jury proceedings.
The unredacted material will include classified information and material involving private citizens who were not charged, the DOJ said.
The new version of the report still won’t include secret grand jury information, which must remain hidden by law while the proceedings are ongoing.
Each lawmaker can also have a staff member present to review the second version of the report, Boyd wrote. He said the report will be provided in a secure reading room at the Justice Department next week and in a secure room in the Capitol the week of April 29.
It was unclear whether the DOJ’s announcement would satiate Nadler and top Democrats. Nadler previously announced he would subpoena the full, unredacted version of the Mueller report and any underlying grand jury evidence.
That would move set up a likely legal confrontation with the Justice Department.
“The attorney general deciding to withhold the full report from Congress is regrettable, but not surprising,” Nadler said during a news conference at which he refused to rule out impeachment proceedings. “Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report shows disturbing evidence that President Trump obstructed justice.”
Even without seeing the full document, some Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, vowed to sign onto an impeachment resolution and pressed for more investigations. Ocasio-Cortez previously has called for Trump’s impeachment, including in a recent viral video in which she struggled to find a basis for impeachment, before claiming that Trump’s tax cuts could suffice.
However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., cautioned against that approach.
“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” Hoyer said. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.”
Republicans, meanwhile, claimed vindication, pointing specifically to several portions of Mueller’s findings that debunked long-held conspiracy theories and media reports that misrepresented the Trump team’s contacts with Russia.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that Thursday was the “best day” since Trump’s election, calling the Mueller probe a “political proctology exam” and the final report a “clean bill of health.”
“It should make people feel really great that a campaign I managed to its successful end did not collude with any Russians,” Conway said. “We’re accepting apologies today, too, for anybody who feels the grace in offering them.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.