Tuesday at the top of her primetime MSNBC program, host Rachel Maddow argued that legal maneuvering by Attorney General William Barr not to offer Congress an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report could force congressional Democrats to seek impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” host told viewers that if the House Judiciary Committee opened an impeachment inquiry, it could force Barr to offer grand jury testimony that was redacted in any future release of the Mueller Report.
As soon as William Barr, the attorney general, hands over his cut-up, edited, Jefferson bible version of the report, Chairman Nadler, the Judiciary Committee, says he’s going to subpoena the whole thing. The whole unredacted version, including asking for a court order to release any grand jury information that Barr has cut out of it, plus all the underlying evidence that goes along with it.
Now, there’s two new things we just learned about that. Number one, William Barr’s refusal to ask the court to release that material to Congress, and Nadler saying, OK, then we’ll do it, it raises a brand-new prospect we have not had to face before. It raises the prospect that one of the things that House Judiciary Committee might have to do is they might have to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, as a formal matter, so the court would recognize them as being in the midst of a judicial proceeding that could legally receive that grand jury stuff.
They would not have to open this grand jury proceeding because they’re intent on impeaching the president, right — excuse me, they would not have to open this impeachment proceeding because they’re intent on impeaching the president right now, they would have to open it up just so they could receive that material from the court.
Democrats, of course, have not wanted to open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, basically for political reasons, but it’s possible they might need to now if they want a court to give them Mueller’s evidence. Since the attorney general won’t help them get it. That is, of course, provided that Robert Mueller, himself, doesn’t just walk his report over to Capitol Hill and hand it to Jerry Nadler, which the attorney general suggested today is an unfortunate possibility, even if it’s one that nobody knew of before he kind of smirked that out today casually.
Provided that doesn’t happen, this new idea that House Democrats might have to formally open an impeachment inquiry into Trump in order to get a report, that’s a brand-new twist in this saga. It has legal elements. It has political elements. We’re going to get expert advice on that in just a moment.
But the other curveball that Barr threw today, and this is something we just don’t have a way to check, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense on its face the way he said it, but it is what he said. The other curveball Barr threw today has to do with the four categories of things that Barr says he’s now cutting out of the Mueller report.
Remember he said he’s cutting not just the grand jury information, which is the thing they have to go to court to try to get an order to release that information, he says he’s also cutting information that could impact ongoing investigations. He says he’s also cutting information that could impact the privacy or the reparations of peripheral third parties. And he says he’s cutting information that the intelligence community wants cut out for its own reasons.
That list of four categories of information, that — that stuff that all has to be cut out of Robert Mueller’s report before any of Mueller’s report gets shown to Congress, that is something that appeared, like, fully formed in the sky as if it were a rainbow ending in the attorney general’s head, you know?
This list of stuff that has to be cut out of the report, it’s not from the special counsel regulations. This is, like, a miracle of spring. This isn’t even the initial list of things that Attorney General Barr said he’d cut. It’s just now what he says he is currently doing. And we’re supposed to assume there’s a quasi-legal framework under which he’s made the decisions that this is what he has to cut, but we take his word for it.