Only three members of the House of Representatives have access to both volumes of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry, according to Politico.
Reps. Val Demings (D-FL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX) are the only three House members that sit on both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees — and are thus the only three members that have special access to both volumes of Mueller’s report.
“We started off wanting every member of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to be able to review the Mueller report and all supporting materials,” Demings told Politico.
“That’s what we wanted because we have to make some critical decisions moving forward, whether it’s to begin an impeachment inquiry or just continue the investigations. We are not able to do that as of yet.”
House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has called for Attorney General Bill Barr to provide lawmakers with access to the full, unredacted version of Mueller’s 448-page final report and its underlying evidence. In May, the Judiciary Committee voted to recommend that Barr be held in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena.
After negotiations with the Justice Department, the Intelligence and Judiciary committees obtained limited access to the underlying evidence in Mueller’s investigation and less redacted versions of his final report.
“Given our conversations with the Department, I will hold the criminal contempt process in abeyance for now.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 that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps. If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies,” Nadler said in a statement earlier this month.
But the access from the Justice Department comes with several strings attached. “The rules are so strict that members of the Intelligence Committee are prohibited from discussing what they see with members of the Judiciary Committee, and vice-versa,” Politico noted.
That puts the three lawmakers in an awkward spot.
“It does come with the added burden of being extraordinarily responsible with the information,” Swalwell told Politico.
“There’s just a weird way of how your brain compartmentalizes it,” the congressman continued. “It’s not an accident that the Intel Committee is three floors under the Capitol. When you come upstairs — I don’t necessarily think about what I heard down there until I go back down there again. It’s just a physical, out of sight, out of mind. I don’t cross the two.”