Sen. Cardin: 'We Need to Get That Mueller Report'; Rep. Lieu: 'We Do Have Subpoena Power'

By Susan Jones | February 21, 2019 | 6:52am EST
Special counsel Robert Mueller arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - Press speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will soon report his Trump-Russia findings to Attorney General William Barr has Democrats insisting that they get a look at Mueller's report, too.

"I think the Congress has a really critical constitutional responsibility here," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said on Wednesday, after CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him if Congress might subpoena Mueller and his report.

"We need to get the Mueller report," Cardin said. "We need to know what that investigation showed. So hopefully that will be made available through the attorney general, but we will use every means we need to in order to get access to the report."

In a separate interview on another CNN program, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) raised the possibility of forcing the report's release to Congress: "We could try to subpoena the entire report," Lieu said. "We could also subpoena witnesses to come in and testify before the Judiciary Committee, such as Robert Mueller or other prosecutors on his team."

According to the rules governing special counsels: "At the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel."

The attorney general, in turn, "may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest" -- or not. So Attorney General Barr could release a redacted report, or a summary of the report, or no report at all.

Cardin, Lieu and other Democrats are demanding "transparency."

"Congress must see the source information, not how it is presented to by Mr. Barr," Cardin said. "It's got to be the information that Mr. Mueller provided to the attorney general. We need to review that. We obviously have important constitutional responsibilities. So I think congress is going to insist upon seeing the basic report.

"We also believe there has to be as much transparency with the public, as much information as possible needs to be released to the public. They have a right to know."

At the White House on Wednesday, President Trump was asked if the report should be released while he's abroad next week, meeting with the North Korean dictator:

"That will be up to the new attorney general, Trump said. "He's a tremendous man, a tremendous person who really respects this country and the Justice Department. So that will be totally up to him."

Blitzer asked Cardin if he expects Trump to invoke executive privilege, "or take other steps to conceal the results of this nearly two-year investigation?"

"Well, President Trump is totally unpredictable," Cardin said. "We know that he's tried to compromise this investigation. He discredited from the beginning, we expect he will continue those efforts. So, yes, we are concerned as to how much the president himself will get involved in trying to cover up as much of this information from becoming public as possible."

Cardin conceded that some information in Mueller's report may need to remain confidential. But, he added, "What we need to know is what did Mr. Mueller find? What is the involvement of the president? What is the involvement of people close to the president, the campaign, et cetera? We need to have that information, the public needs to have that information."

'We do have subpoena power'

Later Wednesday evening, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told CNN's Chris Cuomo, "Taxpayers funded this investigation, and we have a right, both Congress and the American people, to see the entirety of the investigation minus any classified information.

"To have just a mere summary is completely not acceptable, especially if the Department of Justice takes the position that we can't indict a sitting president, therefore Congress is the only arm that can hold him accountable. We need to know all the facts and information, so they can't just not give us the information."

Lieu said if Congress is given a classified version of an "alarming" report, meaning it cannot be released to the public, "I don't think that would be tenable."

He said Congress could always subpoena Mueller and other members of his team:

"Now there are things Congress can do to fix this. One is, we do have subpoena power. Democrats now control the House. We could try to subpoena the entire report. We could also subpoena witnesses to come in and testify before the Judiciary Committee, such as Robert Mueller or other prosecutors on his team."

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