Top Republican calls on Nadler to have Mueller testify

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is urging the panel's Democratic chairman to have special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE testify about his findings from the 22-month investigation into Russian interference.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers Impeachment obliterates tinges of comity in House Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week MORE (R-Ga.) in a letter on Monday called on Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (D-N.Y.) to seek Mueller's testimony, rather than going after Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrJudge rejects DOJ effort to delay House lawsuit against Barr, Ross Holder rips into William Barr: 'He is unfit to lead the Justice Department' Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE, arguing that this is the best path to obtaining transparency.

"If you seek both transparency and for the American public to learn the full contours of the Special Counsel’s investigation, public testimony from Special Counsel Mueller himself is undoubtedly the best way to accomplish this goal," Collins wrote to Nadler.

"To that end, Special Counsel Mueller should be invited to testify before the Committee during the week of April 22. Although the House is expected to be in recess that week, I think we can agree this business is too important to wait, and Members of the Committee will surely return to Washington at such a critical moment in our country’s history," Collins continued.

ADVERTISEMENT

The GOP lawmaker's letter comes after Democrats on the panel voted last week along party lines to authorize a subpoena for Mueller's investigative report as well as the underlying evidence used in the investigation.

While Nadler has said he will give Barr time to turn over the final, unredacted report to Congress before issuing the subpoena, he has not provided a timeline on the matter. Nadler also signaled to reporters last week that he is interested in having Mueller testify, but he indicated he wants to see the full report before making such decisions.

Barr concluded along with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Judge rules former WH counsel McGahn must testify under subpoena MORE that there was not enough evidence to charge President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE with obstruction of justice, even after Mueller declined to make a judgment either way.

Barr's involvement has become a flashpoint among Democrats who say they must see the full report because the attorney general, a Trump appointee, may have sought to protect the president with such an interpretation. In recent weeks, Democrats have increasingly questioned Barr’s ability to be a neutral arbiter over the probe, while also using his involvement to fuel their arguments for access to the full report.

“The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct,” Nadler said at the outset of a meeting last week before lawmakers approved the subpoena. “That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves — not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence.”

Republicans say Nadler should be focusing his attention on Mueller, not Barr, who was not involved in the sprawling 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Attorney General Barr was never a part of this investigation, and instead simply reviewed the Special Counsel’s final report and has provided Congress, so far, with the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions. While he can testify surrounding his decision to provide the Committee with principal conclusions, it is Special Counsel Mueller who is best-positioned to testify regarding the underlying facts and material in which you are so interested," Collins continues.

In his report, Mueller also found that there was not evidence of collusion or coordination between members of the Trump campaign or Russia.

Trump and his Republican allies have seized on Barr’s letter as exonerating the commander in chief.

They also say Nadler’s demands for Barr to release the entire report amount to asking the president's top law enforcement official to violate the law, with many pointing to federal rules that prohibit the public release of grand jury material unless there is a court order authorizing their release.

"You and your fellow Democrats created an untenable but politically convenient situation: force Attorney General William P. Barr to break the law to comply with your subpoena or label him as part of a cover-up if he does not," Collins said.