The legal battle between Democrats and AG Barr over the Mueller report has begun

If past truly is prologue, the next sequence of events will mirror what we saw earlier this decade when Republicans controlled the oversight committees.

Image: Attorney General William Barr arrives to testify before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10, 2019.
Attorney General William Barr arrives to testify before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10, 2019.Andrew Harnik / AP

Speaking about his efforts to obtain the full, un-redacted version of the Mueller report and all of the supporting documents and evidence, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said on Tuesday, “If we don’t get everything, we will issue the subpoena and go to court.”

Nadler’s comments came on the same day that Attorney General William Barr appeared before the House Appropriations Committee and announced that he would release a redacted version of the Mueller report “within a week.” Barr then appeared before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, where he told lawmakers: “I’m landing the plane right now and I’ve been willing to discuss my letters and the process going forward, and the report is going to be out next week and I’m not going to go into the details until the plane is on the ground.”

Whenever the plane does land, it’s likely Barr’s redactions will do little to satisfy Democrats. Any hope that the attorney general would be impartial was erased when he released a four-page document that President Donald Trump has since used as a vehicle to falsely claim a “total exoneration” of all wrongdoing. Even more disturbing was Barr’s refusal to clearly answer questions about potential White House involvement in the crafting of that document.

Indeed, Barr even refused to push back on the president’s accusation that the special counsel’s investigation was nothing but a “witch hunt.” Asked by senators whether he agreed with this characterization, Barr remarked that it “really depends on where you’re sitting.” It was answer sure to make his boss in the Oval Office happy, if not Congress.

Bizarrely, Barr is now claiming that the four-page letter he released was “not a summary” of the Mueller report. Never mind the fact that in his own words, Barr literally wrote, “I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.”

Once again, a member of the Trump administration is lying. It is painfully clear that the attorney general cannot and should not be the arbiter of what Congress, and ultimately the American people, can see when it comes to the Mueller report. Someone who is not comfortable, at the very least, of respecting the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is clearly far too partisan to be trusted with such an important moment in U.S. history.

Barr’s reticence is not super surprising given the White House’s statements. In recent days, Trump has telegraphed that he does not want the full report to be released publicly. On Monday, Trump tweeted: “The Democrats will never be satisfied, not matter what they get, how much they get, or how many pages they get. It will never end, but that’s the way life goes!”