Pelosi rejects any classified briefings on Mueller report

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' Pelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill MORE (D-Calif.) said Saturday she will demand open briefings from the administration on the findings of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 NadlerWatergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by MAPRx - Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by MAPRx - Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs MORE (D-N.Y.), of the Judiciary Committee; Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens Democrats lash out at Trump's bombshell remarks MORE (D-Md.), of Oversight and Reform; Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger MORE (D-Calif.), of the Intelligence Committee; Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Bipartisan House bill seeks to punish Burma for genocide MORE (D-N.Y.), of Foreign Affairs; Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersLawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people Lawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people Criticism punctuates Nadler's leadership of Trump probe MORE (D-Calif.), of the Finance Committee; and Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Justice releases legal opinion backing Treasury's refusal to release Trump tax returns Justice releases legal opinion backing Treasury's refusal to release Trump tax returns MORE (D-Mass.), the chairman of Ways and Means. 
 
Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment 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.