Can Democrats force the DOJ to hand over the Mueller report?

Pelosi levelled the rare charge after Attorney General Bill Barr refused to testify before a House of Representatives panel eager to probe his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused the top law-enforcement officer in the USA of committing a crime by lying to Congress, escalating the showdown between Donald Trump's administration and the Democrats investigating him. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee that Barr shunned, says he'll hold the AG in contempt if he refuses the panel's subpoena for a less-redacted Mueller Report. White House attorney Emmett Flood wrote, in a letter made public Thursday, that Trump's decision to waive privilege for the Mueller investigation did not prevent him from invoking privilege in relation to a congressional investigation. But Mr. Barr has said he has no objection to Mr. Mueller testifying.

Barr defended the president and ignored the people, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mueller also said that the "executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarized" his office's conclusions and requested their release.

Even as Democratic lawmakers accused the Trump administration of a growing attack on US democracy and the authority of Congress, the White House showed no sign of backing down.

A Justice Department spokeswoman offered a one-word response when asked to comment for this story: "Ridiculous".

"He and he alone as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States was left with the burden and the responsibility to do something after he got that report", said Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Mr Barr said on Wednesday his answer was not misleading because he had been in touch with Mr Mueller, rather than members of his team, and the concerns were mostly about process and not substance.

Who is general Barr? And echoing Trump's own complaints, he suggested that the investigation may have illegally "spied" on the president's campaign. "I didn't have to give any documents", Trump added.

Barr canceled his House testimony after clashing with Nadler over the hearing's format, particularly having staff lawyers question him in addition to committee members.

The Justice Department said Barr cancelled his appearance over "unnecessary" changes to the format of the hearing, which would have included an extra hour of proceedings to allow for committee lawyers to question the attorney general.

In terms of the underlying materials, Nadler said the committee wants to see witness interviews and "items such as contemporaneous notes" that are cited in the report.

Earlier in April, Barr told Congress twice that he was unaware of any disagreement Mueller might have had with him on his initial March 24 summary of the report. I thought we learned as youngsters that there were three separate, but equal, branches of government and independent of each other.

When a redacted version of the report was published nearly a month later it outlined extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation and also highlighted a series of actions Donald Trump took to try to impede the investigation.

  • Joey Payne