Lawmakers, Justice Dept. meet over more access to Mueller report

May 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department will meet with House lawmakers Tuesday to negotiate for a less-redacted version of the Mueller report, ahead of a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for failing to show up to a hearing over the matter last week.

House judiciary committee chair Jerry Nadler said late Monday he and staff members will meet with department officials. The meeting had been set for Wednesday but both sides agreed to move it to Tuesday.

“My hope is that we make concrete progress at tomorrow’s meeting towards resolving this dispute,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said. “The committee remains committed to finding a reasonable accommodation.”

For weeks, Democratic lawmakers have been demanding access to the full, non-redacted version of the report, which detailed the department’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The inquiry also looked for evidence of collusion between Russia and members of President Donald Trump‘s campaign.

Barr initially released a four-page summary of the report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller that said no evidence of collusion was found. It also outlined several instances of potential obstruction of justice involving Trump. A redacted version of the near-400-page report was ultimately released last month.

“It remains vital that the committee obtain access to the full unredacted report and the underlying materials,” Nadler said. “At the moment, our plans to consider holding Attorney General Barr accountable for his failure to comply with our subpoena still stand.”

The judiciary committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to hold Barr in contempt for not complying with a subpoena for the unredacted report and failing to show up at a committee hearing last week. Barr testified before a Senate panel to answer questions about the report but did not appear for the House committee the following day.

House Democrats have said the full report is crucial in guarding future elections against Russian interference. The Mueller report confirmed Russian intelligence efforts to hack the 2016 campaign, spread misinformation and leak emails involving Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Nadler has requested a meeting with the Justice Department five times since March 25.

The department said it had concerns about the committee’s “rush” to issue its subpoena after Barr authorized the release of the redacted report. It also emphasized that lawmakers have refused the department’s offer to let them see a less-redacted version.

“Your refusal to review the less redacted report also hinders our ability to engage in a meaningful discussion about what specific information Congress needs in furtherance of its legitimate legislative activities,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to Nadler Monday.

“We are prepared to discuss the matters raised in your letter, including your request to provide greater access to the less redacted version of the report to members of Congress and staff.”

The department said it’s willing to negotiate an accommodation that meets the “legitimate interests” of the two sides’ “coequal branches of government.”

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