Nadler: 'We Have to Look for Abuses of Power. We Have to Look for Obstructions of Justice'

Susan Jones | March 25, 2019 | 7:20am EDT
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Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

( - The end of the Mueller investigation does not end the various congressional investigations into President Trump. Far from it.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told "Fox News Sunday" that his committee has a "broader mandate" than Special Counsel Robert Mueller did: "So we have to look into abuses of power, we have to look into obstructions of justice. And that we will do, and we'll see where it goes -- we'll see where the facts take us."

Later on Sunday, in a series of tweets, Nadler wrote: "In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future."

Nadler was not happy with Barr's summary of Mueller's findings: And he was particularly critical of Barr's decision not to pursue criminal obstruction of justice charges against Trump:

Nadler tweeted: "Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ."

In another tweet, Nadler said: "Special Counsel Mueller "clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision-making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts."

In a letter to congressional leaders released on Sunday afternoon, Barr summarized Mueller's findings. Barr wrote that Mueller did not reach any “legal conclusions” in his obstruction investigation into Trump and his associates, leaving it to Barr himself to “determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.”

Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Barr said the decision – which was roundly condemned by many Democrats – “was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.”

In another tweet, Nadler said: "There must be full transparency in what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered to not exonerate the President from wrongdoing. DOJ owes the public more than just a brief synopsis and decision not to go any further in their work."

'Is it good for the country?'

Earlier, on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace asked Nadler, "How do you think the American people will react to House Democrats continuing to investigate the president for the rest of his time in office, the next two years? I understand why it might be good politically...But is it good for the country, Sir?"

"I don't know if it's good politically or not, and I don't know if it will take the next few years," Nadler responded. "But what I do know is that the job of Congress is much broader than the job of special counsel. The special counsel was looking, and can only look, for crimes.

"We have to protect the rule of law. We have to look for abuses of power. We have to look for obstructions of justice. We have to look for corruption in the exercise of power, which may not be crimes. They may be, but they may not be crimes. We have a much broader mandate and we have to exercise that mandate to protect the integrity of government and protect the integrity of liberty and the country."

Nadler, speaking before Attorney General William Barr released his letter to congressional leaders summarizing Mueller's findings, said Congress absolutely must see the full Mueller report and all it's underlying documentation.

"If the president cannot be a matter of law, then the only way a president can be held accountable is for Congress to consider it an act if warranted. And Congress can only do that if it has the information.

"And for the (Justice) Department to take the position that we are not going to give information because he's not indicted -- like a normal person is not indicted because of lack of evidence -- is equivalent to a cover-up and subverts the only ability to hold the president accountable. And the president, more than anybody else, cannot be above the law.

"As to whether we will use subpoenas, we will if necessary," Nadler added.

Nadler also said he doesn't see the need for an investigation of FBI's conduct in getting a FISA warrant to surveil a Trump campaign volunteer.

Well, when the Republicans controlled the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee in the last two years, there was an extensive investigation of that. And nothing relevant was found. Yes, it turns out that some FBI agents have political opinions that they didn't like the president. Other FBI agents love the president.

But the inspector general found that no actions were taken that were influenced by political opinions. You know, it's against the law for the FBI or any other government agency to inquire as to the political opinions of people you're going to hire, as a head check. So, no, I don't see the necessity for any further investigation.

It is part of a sustained attack by the administration and its allies on the integrity of law enforcement agencies, the FBI, special prosecutor for the last two years to try to undermine the integrity and the credibility of our law enforcement institutions, and that's something that's very damaging to the country. And one of the things that we have to rectify.

Let me add, again, regardless of whether the special prosecutor finds crimes, we know certain things. The public knows certain things. We know that the president asked the FBI director to go easy and to stop investigating some of his close associates like Michael Flynn. We know that the president fired the FBI director because he wouldn't give him the personal loyalty he demanded and because as he put it to NBC News, of the Russian thing.

We know that a lot of the president's closest associates, his campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, national security advisor have been indicted and convicted of various crimes and we know the sustained attacks on our law enforcement institutions. These are very dangerous to the rule of law and we have to try to rectify it.

Wallace summed up: "What you seem to be saying is, whatever is in the Mueller report, not saying you're going to do it, but that impeachment is still on the table."

"It's way too early to talk about impeachment or not," Nadler said. "We have to look at -- as I said, our mandate is not to impeach the president or anything like that. Our mandate is to defend the rule of law and to vindicate our constitutional liberties and to buck up the institutions that have been weakened by the attacks of this administration, the institutions that we depend on for our democratic form of government."

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