House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on Monday that he has decided to postpone legal action against the Justice Department for access to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s files.
Nadler (D-N.Y.) ascribed his decision to an unspecified agreement with the Justice Department to begin providing “key evidence” that Mueller gathered in his investigation into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice offenses.
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“If the department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said in a statement. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”
A Tuesday vote on the House floor authorizing the Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr in civil contempt — enabling them to sue him for failing to provide documents demanded by the committee’s subpoena — is still scheduled, an aide confirmed.
That vote will allow Nadler and other committee chairs to enforce existing or future subpoenas in court without requiring a full House vote for each one. But Nadler’s statement on Monday indicated that he will hold off on immediately going to court.
“We have agreed to allow the department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement,” he said.
Nadler said the Justice Department will share the first batch of documents with the committee later Monday, adding that all members of the panel will be able to view them. It is unclear whether the agreement between House Democrats and the Justice Department allows those documents to become public.
It was also unclear which specific documents the committee secured. In a May 24 letter to Barr, Nadler had tailored his demand to specific contemporaneous notes, memoranda, and 302s — FBI agents’ notes of their witness interviews.
Nadler also said the House intended to delay any action to hold Barr in criminal contempt — a more aggressive punishment — but Democrats signaled last week that criminal contempt was not an option because it would require the Justice Department to charge the attorney general with a crime.
Republicans cheered the temporary cessation of hostilities between Democrats and the Trump administration, which have reached a boiling point in recent weeks over the White House’s refusal to comply with House Democrats’ demands for documents and witness testimony.
“The Justice Department has yet again offered accommodations to House Democrats, and I am glad Chairman Nadler — for the first time in months — has finally met them at the negotiating table,” said the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia.