The Department of Justice stuck to its guns on keeping protected portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report protected Tuesday, despite the possibility of another contempt vote from House Democrats.
In a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said that the Department of Justice would not hand over the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence as demanded by the committee.
The letter was sent in response to Schiff’s previous threat to move forward on “enforcement action” if Attorney General Bill Barr and the department did not comply with a subpoena previously issued by the Intelligence Committee.
“Regrettably, the department’s unacceptable position and failure to comply with the committee’s subpoena, despite its unequivocal constitutional and statutory obligations, leaves the committee no choice but to initiate action next week to enforce the subpoena,” Schiff wrote in a letter to the DOJ last week.
In response to the possibility that such action could be taken at a committee business meeting scheduled the following day, Boyd warned that “precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action” would bring the department’s cooperation on the issue to a complete stop.
“We hope that such a step will not prove necessary,” Boyd added, “because there is no reason why the Department and the Committee cannot work out an accommodation that would meet both of our legitimate needs.”
To begin with, the committee sent the DOJ 12 requests for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence materials related to the Mueller investigation, as well as the unredacted Mueller report. The Department responded to Schiff’s demands by offering to allow all members of the committee to view a less-redacted version of the Mueller report while identifying an initial group of materials to be prioritized for review and disclosure.
“Before making any documents available to the Committee, the Department would be obliged to identify and review the responsive materials,” Boyd wrote, once again explaining that portions of the report contain information and that federal rules and order “require the protection of portions of the redacted materials.”
Despite those concerns, however, the letter said that the DOJ “is willing to work with the Committee on a reasonable and realistic process to accommodate its request for information pertaining to counterintelligence and foreign-intelligence activities related to the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
The department also said in background information accompanying the release of the letter that zero congressional Democrats have accepted the DOJ’s offer to review a less-redacted report.