Pelosi rejects any classified briefings on Mueller report

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Democrats will 'certainly' beat Trump in 2020 Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said Saturday she will demand open briefings from the administration on the findings of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE's report, rejecting any attempt by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to limit the disclosures to a classified setting.
 
During a Saturday afternoon conference call with roughly 120 members of the Democratic Caucus, Pelosi amplified earlier vows that Democrats will insist Mueller's full report be released to the public. Mueller filed a confidential version of the document to Attorney General William Barr on Friday.
 
Democrats are also pushing to make public any underlying documents that could guide the Democrats' ongoing investigations and potential legislative response. Pelosi said she'll also demand that the DOJ's promised briefings be unclassified so lawmakers can speak publicly about the full scope of those discussions.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
"The takeaway from this call is that the American [people] deserve the truth," she said, according to a person on the call. "Transparency is the order of the day." 
 
The demand sets the stage for what are likely to be tense negotiations with administration officials over how much of Mueller's highly anticipated report about the Russia probe will be disclosed — and to whom.
 
Classified briefings are a regular occurrence on Capitol Hill when executive branch officials convey sensitive information to Congress. In such cases, a select group of lawmakers representing both parties and chambers — a group known as the Gang of Eight — typically acts as a conduit between the branches. 
 
Pelosi, as Speaker, is a member of that group. Nonetheless, she said she would reject briefings limited to the Gang of Eight or any other classified arrangements, according to the person on the call. 
 
The Democrats' strategy call came a day after Mueller submitted his long-awaited report to the DOJ but before any of the details have been revealed, even to Congress. The call appeared designed to assure rank-and-file members that party leaders will accept nothing short of full disclosure of Mueller's findings.
 
"Right now, we are in the mode wanting to know the truth, wanting the facts so that our chairpersons and members of the committees can take a look into this going forward," Pelosi said, according to the person on the call.
 
In a letter sent Friday to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Barr vowed "as much transparency as possible" under the regulations governing the special counsel's charge and said he could brief the committee heads on Mueller's "principal conclusions" as early as this weekend.
 
A source familiar with the matter later told The Hill that the DOJ had informed lawmakers that Barr would not provide them a briefing on Saturday about details from the probe into Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
 
Barr has left open the option of keeping certain details under wraps, citing possible claims of executive privilege. 
 
In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent to Democrats just before Saturday's call, Pelosi warned that Barr's offer "to provide the Committees with a summary of the report’s conclusions is insufficient." 
 
"Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise," she wrote.
 
Democrats on the 35-minute call also heard from six committee heads, all of whom have some oversight role related to the Mueller investigation. They included Reps. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerLewandowski says he's under no obligation to speak truthfully to the media Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs Lewandowski refuses to say whether Trump has offered him a pardon MORE (D-N.Y.), of the Judiciary Committee; Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMajority of voters say federal officials staying at Trump hotels is a conflict of interest The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao MORE (D-Md.), of Oversight and Reform; Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff says Trump intel chief won't comply with subpoena over whistleblower Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Schiff: Diplomacy with Iran 'only way out of this situation' MORE (D-Calif.), of the Intelligence Committee; Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Giuliani tears into Democrats after House opens probe into whether he pressured Ukraine to target Biden MORE (D-N.Y.), of Foreign Affairs; Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.), of the Finance Committee; and Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump urges judge to deny New York's motion to dismiss state tax return lawsuit Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Trump probes threaten to overshadow Democrats' agenda MORE (D-Mass.), the chairman of Ways and Means. 
 
Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Democrats face key moment on impeachment drive MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also spoke on the call and made another case for full public disclosure: America's taxpayers, he noted, funded Mueller's investigation and therefore deserve to see the findings in their entirety.