Former AG Mukasey on Barr Contempt Citation: 'The Point of This Is Not to Find Out Facts'

By Susan Jones | May 9, 2019 | 10:08am EDT
Michael B. Mukasey served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Democrats insist that they must see the full, unredacted Mueller report, plus all underlying documentation, to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a contempt resolution against Attorney General William Barr for refusing to hand over subpoenaed material, including grand jury testimony, which is protected by law.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George W. Bush, told CNN Wednesday night that Democrats are crossing a legal line, "because the point of this is not to find out facts," Mukasey told host Chris Cuomo. Mukasey noted that only three people -- all Republicans -- went to see the less-redacted report that Barr did make available only to members of Congress.

Democrats insist on seeing all of it. "If they want it all, then it would be unlawful to disclose it all," Mukasey said.

Why not release all of it to members of Congress if you have nothing to hide? Cuomo asked.

"Because it's about three things," Mukasey said. "National security matters, which you agree shouldn't be disclosed. Matters that can affect ongoing cases, which I assume you think shouldn't be disclosed. And grand jury material, which it is unlawful to disclose."

Cuomo argued, "You can go and petition a judge" for grand jury material.

"No, you can't," Mukasey corrected him. "You get a 6e order (for the release of grand jury material) only for law enforcement purposes. That's the limit," Mukasey said. "You can't do it to satisfy congressional curiosity."

Mukasey said grand jury material is not released as part of "oversight," as Democrats claim.

Mukasey also batted down the Democrats' argument that President Trump cannot assert executive privilege over the Mueller materials, as he just did. Democrats say Trump waived privilege by allowing White House officials to speak to Mueller's team.

"That's just flat-out wrong," Mukasey said, noting that Mueller is a member of the Executive Branch. "Disclosure from one part of the executive to another part of the executive is not a waiver of the executive privilege," he said.

And finally, on the subject of FBI surveillance, which President Trump has railed against for two years, Mukasey said, "We have a lot of reasons to believe that something was done that shouldn't have been done."

Cuomo noted that the FBI got a FISA warrant on Carter Page, a Trump campaign volunteer, and that warrant was reauthorized multiple times. "What's wrong with that?" he asked Mukasey:

"Based on incomplete information, number one," Mukasey said. "Number two, the person who was the occasion for the surveillance, Carter Page, was never charged with anything."

Mukasey said the FBI had to "make a showing and an allegation in that application, not only that he (Carter Page) was a foreign agent, but that he was involved in the commission of a crime."

"That is not true," Cuomo said.

"Yes it is," Mukasey said.

"To get a FISA application, you need to find probable cause he may be a foreign agent, not that he committed a crime," Cuomo argued.

"No, for an American citizen, which Carter Page was, you need a showing that he was involved in the commission of a crime," Mukasey corrected him.

"Are you sure that that's the standard?" Cuomo asked the former attorney general.

"Yes, I am," Mukasey said. "Chris, I will send you the statute by email."

Mukasey said for an American citizen, both boxes have to be checked.

And that's where the interview ended.

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