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2019-06-11 18:12:341 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
While Donald Trump struggled to negotiate immigration improvements with Mexico, the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department were able to come up with an agreement after weeks of negotiations. An even worse blow to Trump is that this negotiation is not in his favor.
The House has been fighting with the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr over whether he would appear, would supply them the unredacted report from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and would give access to the materials collected in the investigation.
Something had to give, and that something was the Justice Department. They agreed to turn over key evidence from the investigation to Congress to help possibly show whether Trump obstructed justice.
House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said the evidence that is being turned over will include "interview notes, firsthand accounts of misconduct, and other critical evidence."
This helps explain why the House Democrats announced last week that they were backing away from their prior threats to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying the subpoena for the materials.
But this doesn't change things for their planned vote for Tuesday. They are still scheduled to vote on giving the Judiciary Committee the power to take Barr and other witnesses who are ignoring their subpoenas to court to enforce their appearance.
On Wednesday the House Oversight and Reform Committee will vote on whether to recommend that the House hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Barr in contempt for defying subpoenas related to a citizenship question being added to the 2020 census.
But with all those other cases still undecided, the case for the evidence appears to have been decided, yet Nadler still seems to have his doubts. "We have agreed to allow the department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement," he said in a statement.
"If the department proceeds in good faith, and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps. If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies."
Nadler still held court in a series of hearings about 10 incidents of Trump's possible obstruction of justice that Mueller identified in his report. However, with former White House Counsel Don McGahn not obeying his subpoena to appear, instead, the panel heard from former White House counsel John Dean, who did time for his part in the Watergate scandal. Two former federal prosecutors, who are contributors on MSNBC, testified too, along with a conservative legal expert.
"The Mueller report is to Trump as the Watergate road map was to [Richard Nixon]," said Dean. "Special Counsel Mueller gave Congress a road map."
Republicans mocked Dean's testimony, especially in light of the televised hearings being preempted because of the Manhattan helicopter crash.
"You are wonderful on TV, but I could catch your testimony on TV," said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) when the witnesses arrived. With a dig aimed at Dean, he said, "This committee is now hearing from the '70s, and they want their star witness back."
"You can't impeach somebody when there's never been a thing done wrong," Trump tweeted after referring to Dean as a "loser." He added that "when you look at past impeachments," there is "a big difference."
The DOJ announced they were only agreeing to share Mueller's materials if the House backs off from holding Barr in contempt.
"We are pleased the committee has agreed to set aside its contempt resolution and is returning to the traditional accommodation process," said DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
"The Department of Justice remains committed to appropriately accommodating congress's legitimate interests related to the special counsel's investigation and will continue to do so provided the previously voted-upon resolution does not advance."
The information that was requested included summaries from interviews with Annie Donaldson, Mr. McGahn’s chief of staff; Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director; Reince Priebus and John Kelly, former White House chiefs of staff; Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal attorney; and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Also requested is detailed notes Donaldson took after meetings between McGahn and Trump; notes taken by Sessions's chief of staff, Joseph H. Hunt; a draft of the letter justifying the firing of former FBI Director James Comey; and a memo regarding the firing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
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