The Mueller report hasn't even been completed yet, and already Congressional Democrats are already preparing to go to war with the DOJ to make sure its contents receive a public hearing (ignoring the virtual certainty that Mueller's team will likely preempt them by leaking the text to the New York Times and Washington Post).
To wit, during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff - who was recently accused by WSJ columnist Kimberly Strassel of being the Dems' "resident collusion conspiracy theorist" - vowed to take his fight for the release of the Mueller report to court if necessary after AG William Barr said he doesn't intend to publish the contents of the report, and would instead offer a summary of its findings to Congress. Barr, who noted during his confirmation that the special counsel statutes state the findings of the report should be "confidential", said he would release only as much information as is required by statute. He also noted that it was "DOJ policy" to withold potentially disparaging information about those who have not been accused of a crime.
In response, Schiff and six other House committee chairs wrote to Barr on Friday to argue that the DoJ had provided to the House in recent years “substantial amounts of investigative material, including classified and law enforcement sensitive information” and that this had set a new precedent for such disclosures.
During his interview with Stephanopoulos, Schiff doubled down on this, insisting that Barr has a "responsibility" to release the full report (note: he does not) and that Dems would demand not just Mueller's final report in full, but also the "underlying evidence" from his investigation.
If these intimidation tactics don't work, Schiff said he would subpoena the report, or even haul Mueller in for a public Congressional hearing if necessary to allow him the publicly detail the contents of the report (note: during the nearly two years since the probe began, Mueller has made almost no public appearances).
When Mueller’s investigation is complete, the report must be made public.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 24, 2019
If Attorney General Barr tries to hide it, we’ll subpoena the report, insist on the underlying evidence, have Mueller testify, and take it to court, if needed.
The American people deserve the facts. pic.twitter.com/vZAb5zsgUU
But even once the protocol has been set aside, Schiff said that there's an "intense public need to know" that trumps any precedent, pardon the pun. And if Mueller doesn't cooperate with the Dems push to publicize the report, Schiff warned that it would forever "tarnish" his legacy.
Read a transcript from the Schiff interview below:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that gets to a question about the Mueller investigation. If it turns out, as the president has said so many times, that he did not collude with the Russians to interfere in the election, but, in fact, he was pursuing this Trump Tower at the same time, if that's not criminal, does Mueller have a responsibility to report it or no?
SCHIFF: He does have a responsibility to report it; and, in fact, if you take the position, and I think it's a flawed one, but if you take the position that the president cannot be indicted, and the only remedy for improper, illegal or other conduct is impeachment, then you cannot withhold that information from congress, or essentially the president has immunity. So that cannot be allowed to be the case. Bob -- or Bill Barr has committed in his testimony to making as much of the report public as he can. And the regulations allow him to make it all. We’re going to insist on it becoming public. And more than that, George, we’re going to insist on the underlying evidence because there is certain evidence is only in the hands of the Department of Justice that we can't get any other way. There were searches conducted, for example, of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. There’s no other way to get the information that was seized except through the department and we can't tell the country fully what happened without it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As -- as you -- as you know, William Barr may have quite a different view of what those regulations require than you do. They could allow him to release the entire report, but under Justice Department regulations, officials have said that if you decline to prosecute someone, then the underlying evidence should not be released.
SCHIFF: But George, the department has violated that policy repeatedly and extendedly, you know, to a -- to a great extent over the last two years. And in fact, I’ve had this conversation with Rod Rosenstein and others down at the Justice Department as they turned over thousands and thousands of pages of discovery in the Clinton e-mail investigation and there was no indictment in that investigation, that this was a new precedent they were setting and they were going to have to live by this precedent whether it was a Congress controlled by the Democrats or Republicans.
So they're going to have to abide by that. And I think also, quite separate apart from the precedent they’ve already set, is the intense public need to know here, which I think overrides any other consideration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You -- you say -- you say the Justice Department’s going to have to live by that precedent, but what if they don't? What if they say no, we’re not going to release the underlying evidence. What options do you have.
SCHIFF: Well we will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court if necessary. And in the end, I think the department understands they're going to have to make this public. I think Barr will ultimately understand that as well. Barr comes into this job with two strikes against him. He applied for the job by be demonstrating a bias against the Mueller investigation. Indeed that's part of the reason he was hired. He’s also not been willing to commit to following the advice of the ethics lawyers. Indeed that was part of the reason he was hired.
If he were try to withhold, to try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy and it will be a tarnished legacy. So I think there’ll be immense pressure not only on the department, but on the attorney general to be forthcoming.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're talking about public pressure. Are you prepared to take the administration to court?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. We are going to get to the bottom of this. We are going to share this information with the public and if the president is serious about all of his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of this report.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has said no collusion many times, as I said. You said many months ago that you’ve already developed evidence of collusion. We haven't seen that from Robert Mueller. Do you have any evidence at all that the president colluded?
SCHIFF: George, there’s ample evidence of collusion of the campaign and it's very much in the public record, and it's everything from what we have seen recently about Paul Manafort meeting with someone linked to Russian intelligence and sharing polling data, and not top line data, not this is why we think Trump is going to win data, but raw data, complicated data. We’ve seen evidence of Roger Stone in communication with Wikileaks, we’ve seen the president's son having a secret meeting at Trump Tower that was presented to him as part of the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign, his acceptance of that help, his interest in getting that.
All of this is evidence of collusion and there’s much, much more. Whether that will amount to a criminal conspiracy that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, we'll have to wait for Bob Mueller to tell us. But to -- to not see what is plainly in front of us means you -- you basically don't want to see the evidence of collusion because it is quite abundant.
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In summary, after bashing the FBI - then led by James Comey - for violating DOJ protocol by releasing so much information about its information into Hillary Clinton, the Dems are preparing to argue that it's only fair the DOJ do the same for Trump.