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 BarrPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' House Democrats must insist that Robert Mueller testifies publicly Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill MORE's offer to let a select group of lawmakers review redacted sections of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE's investigative report.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi uses Trump to her advantage Fake Pelosi video sparks fears for campaigns Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' 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 NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes 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 SchiffFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (Calif.), Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Feinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report MORE (Calif.) and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks 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.