It looks like both houses of Congress might get to hear about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report from Attorney General Bill Barr after all.
After initially tweeting out a reaction to Barr’s top-line summary of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election that seemed to close the door to further inquiry, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that he plans to invite Barr to testify in front of the upper chamber’s panel. Graham’s announcement comes one day after House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said he’d call on Barr to explain his conclusions in front of Congress as well.
Barr sent a four-page letter to congressional leaders on Sunday offering up his take on the “principal conclusions” of the Mueller report. As part of his review, Barr said Mueller did not find collusion between Moscow and Donald Trump’s campaign, though the special counsel was unable to “exonerate” Trump on the matter of obstruction of justice.
“What’s next I hope is that [Attorney General Barr] will come to the committee, release as much as possible of the Mueller report,” Graham said during a Monday press conference. “My desire is for the public to get as much of the report as possible.”
Graham said he’d be speaking with Barr during a phone call on Monday at noon and that the special counsel’s office would be working with the attorney general to determine what parts of the report may need to remain classified. Graham also noted that the White House could claim “executive privilege” and use it to conceal portions of the report from public view, a move that Democrats have strongly warned against.
Ever since news broke of the report’s completion, Democrats have been hammering the need for a public release of the review, so lawmakers and the broader public can better understand how Mueller and Barr arrived at their conclusions. They’ve also expressed concerns that the White House could try to suppress parts of the report that are unfavorable to the president.
“The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Friday.
Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and Rep. Doug Collins (GA), have also called for the public release of the report, with some arguing that doing so would only further clear Trump. Many, including Graham, have hailed the report as a sign that a major “cloud” hanging over the president has been removed.
“From my point of view, it was a great day for the president in terms of the underlying allegation,” Graham said, adding that Trump seemed to feel a sense of “relief” when the two men conversed this past weekend.
Graham also sought to shift the spotlight back onto … Hillary Clinton
The Mueller report wasn’t the only thing Graham talked about on Monday.
Graham also said he was interested in conducting further investigation into former FBI Director James Comey’s review of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as the way FISA warrants were used for surveillance of a Trump campaign official. He made it clear he intends to pursue hearings and other efforts to conduct oversight of how the FBI handled its past reviews.
As Vox’s Jane Coaston writes, Graham is far from the only Republican trying to shift the focus of investigations back onto the Democrats now that the Mueller review has concluded. Charlie Kirk, the head of the Turning Point USA, a Republican advocacy group, is among the conservative voices arguing that the Clinton campaign and other members of the FBI now deserve greater scrutiny. House Republicans, too, have already suggested that those who’ve pushed for this review into collusion should be penalized.
Graham signaled that Comey is one of the people he’s interested in bringing in for a hearing.
“I’m hoping some of you will be interested in the other side of the story,” Graham said.