Top House Democrats say Barr doesn't deserve benefit of doubt

Hillary Clinton speaks about the FBI inquiry into her emails during a campaign rally in Daytona Beach Florida

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The US Congress House Judiciary Committee has approved subpoena power for special counsel Robert Mueller's full Russian Federation report, amid a Democratic party effort to publicly release the document without redactions.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-17 Wednesday morning to authorize a subpoena for the full report, as well as all "underlying evidence and related matters".

For Trump supporters, his loyal base of approximately 35% to 40% of Americans, there was news to cheer about: The Mueller investigation, Barr said, "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russian Federation in its efforts to influence the 2016 USA presidential election".

Barr, in other words, is behaving exactly as Nadler should hope the attorney general would act in such a situation: working to prepare the report for public release consistent with all applicable laws.

The vote further escalates the Democrats' battle with the Justice Department over how much of the report they will be able to see, a fight that could eventually head to court if the two sides can't settle their differences through negotiation.

This would include obscuring information that could jeopardise ongoing investigations, and the removal of information that "would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties".

Democrats say they want access to all of that information, even if some of it can not be disclosed to the public.

Nadler's panel shifted its focus to subpoenas to obtain the Mueller report when it became clear Barr would ignore a Democratic demand turn it over unredacted by a Tuesday deadline. "It represents statements which may or may not be true by various witnesses, salacious material, all kinds of material that it would be unfair to release, '" Collins said. He also said he is prepared to go to court to get the grand jury information. Moscow says it did not try to interfere in the election, even though US intelligence agencies concluded that it secretly trying to sway USA voters in Trump's favour.

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In addition to the subpoena for the Mueller report and evidence, the committee was voting Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to five former White House officials. The committee rejected a GOP amendment that would have blocked the subpoenas from applying to grand jury information. "This is nothing but political theatre".

The law requiring Starr to submit a report directly to Congress was allowed by politicians to lapse after Republicans in the House pursued impeachment over whether Clinton lied to investigators about his relationship with Lewinsky.

"While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him", Barr quotes Mueller as saying in his summary.

Issuing subpoenas would open a new legal front against the Trump administration by Democrats who won control of the House in last year's congressional elections.

The House in early March voted unanimously to call for the report's release.

Barr told Congress that, on the question of collusion, the report "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities". Barr himself subsequently concluded that Mueller's inquiry had not found sufficient evidence to warrant obstruction criminal charges against the president.

It is likely that when the report is released, Barr's initial assessment will be criticized, but that criticism will be of the familiar partisan kind that has circled around this investigation since it started.

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