DOJ offers House Intel some Mueller materials if Schiff drops Barr threat

The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would provide the House Intelligence Committee with some materials related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as long as the panel dropped its threat to pursue an “enforcement action” against Attorney General William Barr.

The department made the offer in a three-page letter to Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) one day before the committee is slated to vote on what he has described as an “enforcement action” against Barr. Schiff has not said what shape the action would take.

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The Justice Department has said it would allow the full committee to review a less redacted version of the first volume of the report — the section discussing Russian interference in which Schiff’s panel is primarily interested — and identify an initial tranche of materials the committee is demanding that it would prioritize for review and disclosure to the committee.

On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said the department is willing to “expedite” access to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information identified by the committee as a priority if the panel confirms that it will not move forward on a vote on an enforcement action.

Boyd noted that the department needs time to process and review materials from the 12 categories of documents identified by the committee and to consult with the intelligence community before sharing them. But he said the Justice Department “may be in a position to discuss making them available to the Committee in relatively short order.”

“To be clear, should the Committee take the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the Attorney General, then the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interests in these materials,” Boyd wrote.

“We hope that such a step will not prove necessary because there is no reason why the Department and the Committee cannot work out an accommodation that would meet both of our legitimate needs,” he added. 

A committee spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Schiff issued a subpoena for Mueller’s full unredacted report, the underlying evidence, and all counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials generated in the course of the investigation on May 8, giving the department until May 15 to comply with the subpoena.

Last week, Schiff said the department had not produced a single document in compliance with the subpoena deadline, leading him to schedule a business meeting Wednesday morning to vote on an “enforcement action” to compel the Justice Department to turn over the files.

“The refusal by the department, if it persists, will be a graphic illustration of bad faith and an unwillingness to cooperate with lawful process,” Schiff told reporters Monday evening.

Schiff declined to say Monday whether the committee planned to vote to hold Barr in contempt and suggested he was still consulting with House counsel on the best course to enforce the subpoena.

“We will have a vote,” Schiff said. “I don’t want to characterize the motion just yet. We’re still discussing that matter with the general counsel.” 

Boyd on Tuesday accused Schiff of mischaracterizing “many aspects of our prior letter and the good faith offer it set forth” in earlier correspondence and wrote that it would be “unnecessary and unproductive” for the committee to vote to hold Barr in contempt on Wednesday.

Democrats, critical of Barr’s handling of Mueller’s report, have rejected his offer to allow a select group to review a less redacted version in a secure space provided they keep its contents confidential.

The House Judiciary Committee separately subpoenaed for Mueller’s full report and underlying evidence in April, after Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report.

The committee voted along party lines to hold Barr in contempt earlier this month when he failed to meet their demands. The contempt resolution has not yet advanced to the floor for a vote by the full House.

Updated at 3:31 p.m.