Democrats say Mueller report shows why Congress needs to hold Trump accountable

Democrats immediately asked Robert Mueller to testify before Congress.

April 18, 2019, 3:26 PM

Within minutes of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced he would subpoena the Justice Department for a full, unredacted version even as Republicans celebrated the findings of the special counsel and urged Democrats to “move on" from the Russia investigation.

"We clearly can't believe what Attorney General Barr tells us," Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters at a news conference in New York City Thursday afternoon. "The special counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the president and the responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the president accountable for his actions."

In this file photo taken on March 25, 2019, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler walks to his office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

When asked if Congress holding President Donald Trump “accountable” means impeachment, Nadler said “that is one possibility” as he believes the report “was probably written with the intent of providing Congress a road map,” but he added “it’s too early to reach those conclusions.”

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer contended the differences between what Barr said at his Thursday morning news conference regarding whether the president had committed obstruction of justice and what Mueller wrote about possible obstruction “are stark.”

"As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding,” Pelosi and Schumer stated.

PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan about the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, in Washington, D.C.,  April 18, 2019.
Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan, rear left, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Patrick Semansky/AP

Nadler pointed to details in the report he said “contradicted” Barr’s remarks in his news conference Thursday morning,

For example, Nadler pointed to a line in the Mueller report that a “thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would have risen to personal and political concerns.”

“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct,” Nadler wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The Special Counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the President.”

“Because Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, I will issue a subpoena for the full report and the underlying materials,” Nadler vowed.

A committee aide indicated Nalder is not expected to issue the subpoena on Thursday.

House Oversight and Reform chairman Elijah Cummings also urged Congress to subpoena "the full report and all underlying documents."

“The President and his Attorney General expect the American people to be blind to what we can now see. This report catalogues in excruciating detail a proliferation of lies by the President to the American people, as well as his incessant and repeated efforts to encourage others to lie," Cummings, D-Md., stated. "Contrary to Attorney General Barr’s attempts at misdirection, it is crystal clear from the report that the Justice Department’s policy against indicting a sitting President played a key role in Special Counsel Mueller’s analysis—in fact, it is the very first point in the obstruction section of his report."

Barr pledged to make portions of the unredacted report privately available to a select few members of Congress, perhaps as limited as the so-called Gang of Eight, which is comprised of senior elected leadership of the House and Senate and the House and Senate Intelligence committee chairmen and ranking members, potentially not giving Nadler or Cummings access to an unredacted version.

Nadler, who aides say has been in constant communication with the Justice Department in recent weeks ahead of the report release, said he has not heard anything “about receiving a less-redacted version of the report.”

Shortly before the report was released Thursday morning, Nadler wrote Mueller a letter requesting he testify at the House Judiciary Committee on the Russia investigation, “no later than May 23.”

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff piled on, formally inviting Mueller to testify at his committee “at a mutually agreeable date in May” as well.

“The House Intelligence Committee has formally invited Special Counsel Mueller to testify on the counterintelligence investigation,” Schiff, D-Calif., stated. “After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin.”

While there was no immediate response from Mueller, Barr said he had no objection to Mueller testifying.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 4, 2019.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

After almost two years of the Russia investigation, Republicans are urging Democrats to "move on."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that “nothing” from the publicly released report changes “the underlying results of the 22-month long Mueller investigation that ultimately found no collusion.”

“Democrats want to keep searching for imaginary evidence that supports their claims, but it is simply not there,” McCarthy noted. “It is time to move on.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, argued that it “would be a miscarriage of justice to use cherry-picked bits of information from the report to sow further divisiveness and spread conspiracies that serve only to undermine our democratic institutions.”

“One thing, however, is clear with the release of the report today: this sad chapter of American history is behind us,” Jordan, R-Ohio, stated. “It is time to turn back to the people's work of improving the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of how their tax dollars are spent.”

ABC News' Megan Hughes contributeed to this report.

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