As soon as Attorney General William Barr gave Congress his summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) started pointing out what wasn’t in it: a clear exoneration from Mueller regarding President Donald Trump and obstruction of justice. While Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that there wasn’t enough to go on for prosecution, Nadler isn’t convinced and has called for more information. This quest to dig deeper into the obstruction issue points towards a desire to possibly impeach the president.
“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 said in a tweet on Sunday.
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.
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 24, 2019
Later, Nadler addressed this again. In response to Trump’s claim that the report provided “complete and total exoneration,” Nadler said, “This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration,” reiterating that he plans on calling Barr to testify, even if he has to issue a subpoena.
Nadler wasn’t the only Democratic leader to weigh in on Sunday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement, saying:
The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay. Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.
They went on to say that Trump’s claims of exoneration should not “be taken with any degree of credibility.”
The efforts by top Democrats to press the obstruction issue further, despite the Department of Justice already weighing in on the matter, appears to indicate that they are willing to pursue the one avenue they have available to them: impeachment. Mueller specifically opted not to reach a conclusion on the issue, allowing others to look at evidence and make their own decisions. Barr did say that he intended to provide more details from Mueller’s report, and Democrats appear poised to do whatever it takes to get that information.
Attorney and CNN legal analyst Ross Garber, who has represented officials facing impeachment, weighed in on this, saying, “Barr’s summary raises impeachment concerns.”
Barr’s summary raises impeachment concerns related to potential obstruction of justice. It indicates that Mueller found incriminating evidence about the issue (although stopped short of determining a crime had been committed). The House will clearly be looking for that info.
— Ross Garber (@rossgarber) March 24, 2019
He later pointed out that if House Democrats wanted to do this, they’d have to do their own homework, instead of relying on Barr to give them what they want.
If the House wants to consider impeaching the president, it must do its own inquiry and evaluation. It can’t force the Executive Branch into involuntary servitude. Ball is in @SpeakerPelosi‘s court.
— Ross Garber (@rossgarber) March 25, 2019
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]
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