Justice Department strikes deal with House Democrats over Mueller report evidence, chairman says

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House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday that he has struck a deal with the Justice Department to begin providing Congress with some documents from the Mueller report related to obstruction of justice, putting off a looming court showdown between House Democrats and Justice over the report.

The court fight to enforce a subpoena to Attorney General William Barr is no longer necessary -- at least for the time being -- as a result of the agreement the committee struck with the Justice Department, Nadler said. Details about which documents would be provided to the committee were not disclosed, but the New York Democrat said the agreement would allow all Judiciary Committee members to see "Robert Mueller's most important files ... providing us with key evidence that the Special Counsel used to assess whether the President and others obstructed justice or were engaged in other misconduct."

"These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel," Nadler said.

Nadler announced the agreement ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday, when the House is expected to approve a resolution to go to court to enforce its subpoenas for Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Tuesday's vote is still happening and the text of the resolution will not change, according to a senior Democratic aide, but Nadler said the committee would not take court action against Barr unless the Justice Department stopped cooperating.

Nadler said in a statement that he would "hold the criminal contempt process in abeyance for now" as a result of the agreement. But the House resolution introduced last week did not include a criminal contempt citation against Barr -- it was only a resolution to go to court to enforce the subpoenas of Barr and McGahn.

"I see no need to resort to the criminal contempt statute to enforce our April 19 subpoena, at least for now, so long as the Department upholds its end of the bargain," Nadler said at a Monday hearing.

"But our arrangement with the Department does not extend to the full scope of our request for the full Mueller report and its underlying materials, including grand jury information, nor does it extend to our demand that Don McGahn, a key fact witness, testify before this committee," he added.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec praised Nadler's decision.

"We are pleased the Committee has agreed to set aside its contempt resolution and is returning to the traditional accommodation process," she said in a statement. "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 agreement is the first sign of a thaw between the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department, which have been battling over the special counsel's report since Robert Mueller ended his investigation in March.

The House Judiciary Committee had issued a subpoena for Mueller's unredacted report and all of the special counsel's evidence, and then voted to hold Barr in contempt last month. The committee also fought with Barr over the format of his hearing to discuss the special counsel's report, prompting the attorney general to skip his appearance.

The agreement with the Judiciary Committee follows a similar accord struck between the Justice Department and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, who said last week that his panel had begun reviewing a set of counterintelligence documents from the special counsel's investigation in response to Schiff's subpoena.

In a letter last month, Nadler said he was willing negotiate over the scope of the subpoena and accept a smaller subset of documents out of Mueller's evidence, including FBI summaries of key interviews with witnesses and notes from several White House aides. The Justice Department responded it would also be willing to negotiate on the committee's document request so long as the House called off its contempt vote against Barr.

While the Judiciary Committee still sees the resolution as part of the civil contempt process to enforce subpoenas through the courts, the Justice Department only considers it an effort to enforce subpoenas, and not contempt, according to a Justice Department official.

Nadler noted that Tuesday's vote included language authorizing court action against McGahn, in addition to Barr. He said that as long as the Justice Department "proceeds in good faith," there would be no further steps taken against Barr, but added: "If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies."

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, praised the agreement while suggesting the House should call off its floor vote on Tuesday.

"In light of today's agreement from the Justice Department, it's logical to ask: Is the chairman prepared to rescind his baseless recommendation to hold the attorney general in contempt, or do House Democrats still plan to green light lawsuits against the attorney general and former White House counsel tomorrow?" Collins said in a statement.

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