- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2019

Congressional Democrats demanded immediate access Friday evening to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative report, saying lawmakers must see his raw materials and conclusions to prevent mischief.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Charles E. Schumer also warned the White House against asking for a “sneak preview” before Congress sees the report.

Republicans also said they were eager to see the findings, convinced that Mr. Mueller has punctured conspiracy theories of “collusion” between Mr. Trump and Russian operatives to subvert the 2016 election.

Yet top Democrats seemed to hold out hope that there’s still damning findings against Mr. Trump.

“To be clear, if the special counsel has reason to believe that the president has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the Justice Department has an obligation not to conceal such information,” the chairmen of six House committees wrote to Mr. Barr, suggesting they feared he might be involved in “a cover-up of misconduct.”

“The president must be subject to accountability and if the Justice Department is unable to do so, then the need to provide Congress with the relevant information is paramount,” the chairmen said.

Mr. Mueller sent his final “confidential report” to Attorney General William Barr Friday, detailing his investigations and decisions on who he prosecuted and why — and on who he did not prosecute — in his probe into the 2016 election.

Moments after Mr. Barr announced the report’s arrival, Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said it should also go immediately to lawmakers.

“The special counsel’s report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the attorney general should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice, Mr. Warner said.

He also said Mr. Mueller must preserve all of his work so Congress can peruse it.

“Any attempt by the Trump Administration to cover up the results of this investigation into Russia’s attack on our democracy would be unacceptable,” said Mr. Warner.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer cautioned against giving the White House a chance to interfere.

“Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview,’” they said in a joint statement.

The White House said Friday afternoon that that while they had been informed of the report’s submission, they had not seen it.

Mr. Barr, in a letter to congressional chairmen and ranking members Friday, said he is reviewing the report and will give Congress his sense of the “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

He said he would also consult with Mr. Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about next steps for a more complete release to Congress and the public.

Sen. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and one of those Mr. Barr alerted to the report’s submission, said he expects the attorney general to be as forthcoming as he can.

“I fully expect the Justice Department to release the special counsel’s report to this committee and to the public without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law,” Mr. Collins said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, also urged transparency, saying Mr. Mueller has a chance to put to rest wild theories about the 2016 election.

“Throughout this prolonged investigation, which cost tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and included aggressive surveillance tools, we still haven’t seen any evidence of collusion,” the Iowa Republican said. “Attempts to keep the collusion narrative alive, especially for political reasons, will only serve to further harm our political discourse and play into the hands of our foreign adversaries.”

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