Dems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions

Dems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions
© Greg Nash

Top congressional Democrats on Friday rejected Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Harris campaign accepts money from partners of law firm she criticized over Epstein case MORE's offer to let a select group of lawmakers review redacted sections of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats 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 investigative report.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE (D-N.Y.) and the top Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees in both chambers argued in a letter on Friday that Barr's offer is too rigid. They said the number of lawmakers who can review the redacted text is too small, and they took issue with not being able to see all the information, including grand jury material.

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"Unfortunately, your proposed accommodation -- which among other things would prohibit discussion of the full report, even with other Committee Members -- is not acceptable," the Democrats wrote in their letter to Barr.

"Given the comprehensive factual findings presented by the Special Counsel's Report, some of which will only be fully understood with access to the redacted material, we cannot agree to the conditions you are placing on our access to the full report. Nor can we agree to an arrangement that does not include a mechanism for ensuring access to grand jury material," they added.

Their letter comes after Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd notified House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (R-S.C.) on Thursday, following the release of a redacted version of the 448-page report, that Barr has agreed to provide their committees and the Gang of Eight access to details in Mueller’s report that were restricted in the public version.

Barr's offer would allow the lawmakers to review sensitive information uncovered during Mueller's 22-month probe, including matters related to national security and details that relate to ongoing criminal investigations.

Democrats said Friday that while they won't accept the offer, they are willing to work with Barr to reach "a reasonable accommodation" so that the Justice Department can continue to "protect law enforcement sensitive information," while allowing lawmakers to review information they view as necessary in order to conduct their oversight responsibilities.

Barr has said that he is operating within the guidelines of the special counsel regulations by not providing Congress with information like grand jury materials.

Nadler, who signed Friday's letter, issued a subpoena earlier in the day in an attempt to compel Barr to provide Congress with the full report and its underlying evidence, the first legal move in what is gearing up to become a protracted court battle.

The other Democratic lawmakers who signed the letter are House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify Mueller to give extended testimony after appearance postponed MORE (Calif.), Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip MORE (Calif.) and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand On The Money: Fed chief warns of 'unthinkable' harm if debt ceiling breached | Powell basks in bipartisan praise amid Trump attacks | Federal deficit jumps to 7 billion Fed chief basks in bipartisan praise as lawmakers dismiss Trump attacks MORE (Va.).

Republicans slammed the move, saying Nadler and other Democrats are rejecting the very information they want provided to Congress.

“Democrats demand answers but put their hands over their eyes every time those answers appear," a spokesperson for House Judiciary Republicans said in a statement. "Attorney General Barr has given unprecedented accommodations to Chairman Nadler, and it’s unconscionable the chairman refuses receipt of information he’s claimed for weeks Democrats are ‘entitled to.’ Who subpoenas a report and publicly refuses to read it in the same day?”

Updated at 4:48 p.m.