U.S. lawmakers face hurdles in bid to Robert Mueller’s full report

Vastavam web: Democratic U.S. lawmakers have vowed a court fight if necessary to secure the public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on his investigation into possible coordination between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. But such a court challenge could face numerous hurdles, legal experts said on Monday, adding that the Justice Department might have reasons far beyond protecting President Donald Trump from legal and political fallout in withholding at least parts of the Mueller report.

Mueller is preparing the eagerly anticipated report on the investigation he took over in May 2017 examining potential Trump campaign conspiracy with Moscow to help tip the election his way and whether he has sought unlawfully to obstruct the probe. A report finding either collusion or obstruction could lead the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to consider launching the impeachment process set out under the U.S. Constitution to remove a president from office.

The Justice Department regulations governing Mueller’s appointment as special counsel called for him to write a “confidential report” explaining any criminal charges he brought, as well as any decisions not to prosecute. Mueller will submit his report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee who is required to provide a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress.

If Barr defied a congressional subpoena and refused to disclose the full report, the House could vote to hold him in contempt of Congress and seek to enforce their subpoena through a civil lawsuit in federal court. “The congressional subpoena power is an important fail-safe in case the Mueller report is suppressed or heavily redacted,” former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said.

Such disputes between the Justice Department and Congress have happened before, typically being resolved through closed-door negotiations before a court has a chance to rule, University of Michigan-Dearborn political science professor Mitchel Sollenberger said. In 2012, the House, then controlled by Republicans, voted to hold Democratic President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to a failed federal law enforcement operation dubbed “Fast and Furious” targeting gun traffickers.