House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced Monday that he plans to hit pause on efforts to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt, after reaching a deal with the Justice Department for access to evidence related to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.
In a statement, Nadler, D-N.Y., announced the agreement with the Justice Department to turn over key evidence from Mueller’s investigation pertaining to the review of whether President Trump obstructed justice.
"I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice has agreed to begin complying with our committee's subpoena by opening Robert Mueller’s most important files to us, 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,” Nadler said. “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 the Justice Department would begin sharing the documents with his panel late Monday, and added that both Democrats and Republicans would have access to the files.
“Given our conversations with the Department, I will hold the criminal contempt process in abeyance for now,” he continued. “We have agreed to allow the Department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement. If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything we need, then there will be no need to take further steps.”
Nadler did say, however, that if “important information is held back,” then the committee would have “no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”
DOJ sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that such an agreement had been made.
Nadler’s announcement comes after the Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt last month, after the Justice Department did not comply with a subpoena seeking access to an unredacted version of Mueller’s Russia report, as well as underlying documents and evidence. President Trump also asserted executive privilege over the files in a bid to protect them from release.
However, at this stage House Democrats are still preparing to move forward on a separate contempt-related resolution to enforce subpoenas for Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. The measure is scheduled to be prepared late Monday in the House Rules Committee, for possible floor action on Tuesday.
It is unclear, at this point, if Nadler’s announcement will have any effect on that committee’s plans.
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., praised Nadler on Monday for negotiating with the Justice Department “for the first time in months.”
“Today’s good faith provision from the administration further debunks claims that the White House is stonewalling Congress, which Chairman Schiff’s successful negotiations with the Justice Department already showed,” Collins said, referring to an agreement between the House Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department last month. At the time, the Justice Department agreed to share some documents with Schiff’s committee.
Meanwhile, Nadler’s committee, which would oversee any potential impeachment proceedings, has sought underlying evidence related to Mueller’s obstruction of justice inquiry for months.
Last month, in his only public appearance as special counsel, Mueller maintained that there was “not sufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy” with regard to whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
But Mueller left open the question of whether the president obstructed justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said. “We did not determine whether the president did commit a crime.”
Mueller explained longstanding Justice Department policy, which states a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, and thus said “charging the president was not an option we could consider.”
Mueller added that “it would be unfair to accuse someone of a crime when there could be no court resolution of the charge.” Mueller said that while the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion blocks a president from indictment while in office, “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”
Many congressional Democrats took Mueller’s comment as a green light to consider impeachment proceedings against the president -- despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reluctance.
After Mueller’s rare public appearance, Nadler said there “certainly is” justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
“Given that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump—and we will do so,” Nadler said in a statement. “No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”
Fox News' Jake Gibson and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.