Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Saturday she'll rebuff any efforts by the Justice Department to reveal details of special counsel Robert Mueller's findings in a highly classified setting — a tactic she warned could be employed to shield the report's conclusions from the public.
Two sources who participated in a conference call among House Democrats said Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers she worried the Justice Department would seek to disclose Mueller's conclusions to the so-called Gang of Eight — the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate — which handles the nation’s most sensitive secrets. The substance of Gang of Eight briefings are heavily guarded.
“Everyone pounded the transparency drum continuously,” said a source who was on the Saturday afternoon call.
Pelosi said it was her belief that the findings of the report should be unclassified, a consistent theme from Democrats who said they wanted Attorney General William Barr to share virtually every scrap of paper connected to the Mueller report with Congress.
Democrats repeatedly compared their demands for transparency to Republican efforts to obtain intricate details of the FBI’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. GOP lawmakers succeeded in obtaining thousands of FBI officials’ text messages connected to the Clinton probe, as well as agent notes, internal emails and thousands of files.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) both cited the Clinton precedent as evidence to support their calls for complete transparency.
Democrats conferred as they awaited a high-level summary of Mueller’s findings from the Justice Department, which top Democrats said they expected to be delivered to Congress on Sunday or Monday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is likely to get the first indication from Barr when a summary is being delivered, said he would notify colleagues immediately.
Without details of Mueller’s conclusions about Russian contacts with associates of President Donald Trump in 2016, the lawmakers leaned heavily into calls for the release of the full report.
During an earlier conference call with Judiciary Committee Democrats, Nadler said the committee would ask the Justice Department to preserve all documents from the special counsel’s investigation, according to a source familiar with the call.