What Democrats could do next, now that the Mueller report is out
House Democrats are planning to pursue their investigations on multiple fronts in the aftermath of the release of Robert Mueller’s report, pushing to examine areas they believe were not fully explored by the special counsel, according to multiple Democrats involved in the matter.
Here’s what to expect:
- Right off the bat, the Democrats plan to mount a full-court press for the entire Mueller report and the underlying evidence, with the House Judiciary Committee preparing to issue subpoenas as soon as Friday, aides said.
- The committee has also authorized subpoenas for five former White House officials who were mentioned in the Mueller report – including former White House counsel Don McGahn – that could shed light on allegations of obstruction of justice. Those subpoenas also could soon be served.
- The House Intelligence Committee plans to continue to probe into President Trump’s finances and investigate whether Trump is compromised by any foreign interest, Democrats said.
- And already the panel, along with House Financial Services Committee, has issued nine subpoenas to financial institutions to learn about the extent of the Trump Organization’s business dealings.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, speaking to reporters in Burbank, Calif., said Thursday his plan is to not “recreate the wheel” but to be “guided by the good investigative work” Mueller has done, which is why, he said, Congress needs to see all the information the special counsel has uncovered.
The House Judiciary Committee wants to hear from individuals who had “incriminating evidence” laid out in the report, according to a Democratic source. Several Democrats said there’s an interest in bringing McGahn in for a hearing, but no decisions have been made.
McGahn is one of five former White House officials who could soon be served with subpoenas to turn over documents. The others: Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Annie Donaldson.
Democrats said the House Judiciary Committee inquiry is “much broader” in scope than the one launched by Mueller, who probed whether any criminal conduct occurred to thwart the Russia investigation. The Democrats’ investigation, they said, is not limited to campaign activities and criminal conduct.
Trump adviser: Sometimes we ignore his orders
A Trump adviser explained former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s actions ignoring President Trump’s attempts to interfere with the investigation:
“Sometimes it’s him thinking out loud,” the adviser said.
House intel chair calls facts in report “damning”
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, took aim at Attorney General William Barr over the report, saying Barr had done a “grave disservice” to the country by “misrepresenting” special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and putting a “positive spin” on the findings.
Schiff went on to say Barr is “not the President’s personal lawyer, although he may feel he is.” He noted that if Mueller had found evidence to exonerate the President, he would have said so.
Schiff said whether or not the President’s actions were criminal, they “are unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic and should be condemned by every American.”
“That is not the subject of vindication. That is the subject of condemnation. And that is how i think we should view the Mueller report,” he added.
Schiff called the facts in the report “damning,” adding, “whether they could or should have resulted in the indictment of the President or the people around him, they are damning. And we should call for better from our elected officials. The standard cannot simply be that you can do anything you like as long as you can declare at the end of the day that, ‘I am not a crook.’ That is not the ethical standard that the American people expect in their President.”
Schiff said they are asking for the unredacted report, as well as for Mueller to testify.
GOP Senate Intel chair appeared to brief White House counsel on FBI investigation in 2017, report says
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr appeared to brief the White House counsel’s office about the targets of the FBI’s Russia investigation in March 2017, the special counsel’s report says.
The report states that FBI Director James Comey briefed the Gang of Eight — the Intelligence Committee and congressional leaders — about the investigation on March 9, 2017, before he revealed its existence publicly at a House hearing on March 20, 2017.
“The week after Comey’s briefing, the White House counsel’s office was in contact with SSCI Chairman Senator Richard Burr about the Russia investigations and appears to have received information about the status of the FBI investigation,” the report states.
In a footnote, the report states that the White House counsel’s office was briefed by Burr on the “existence of 4-5 targets,” citing notes from former deputy White House Counsel Annie Donaldson. The notes included references to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a redacted individual due to an ongoing investigation and “Greek Guy,” which is likely George Papadopoulos — although the footnote also notes that the Intelligence Committee “does not formally investigate individuals as ‘targets.’”
“The notes on their face reference the FBI, the Department of Justice and Comey; and the notes track…