House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) doesn’t need the Mueller report to know whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, he said early Sunday.
“Obviously, we know there was some collusion,” the New York Democrat said during an appearance on CNN. “We know the president’s son and campaign manager were involved in a meeting with the Russians to receive what they thought was information stolen by the Russians from the Democratic National Committee, as part of the Russian government’s attempt to help Trump in the election. That’s the way the e-mail inviting them to the meeting put it.”
CNN anchor Dana Bash reminded Nadler that, according to several reports, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report does not recommend any additional indictments.
“No, it doesn’t,” Nadler said. “But we know there was collusion. Why there have been no indictments, we don’t know.”
In addition to the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, Nadler noted that Trump “pressured the FBI to go easy” in its investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and fired former FBI director James Comey in part because Comey was investigating Russian collusion. He also noted that many of the president’s top associates and advisers have been indicted on various criminal charges, including Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to seven years in jail for multiple counts of finance and tax fraud.
Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen was also sentenced in December to three years in prison for tax and bank fraud, and campaign finance violations related to payments he made in the days leading up to the election to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Cohen testified that he did so on direct orders from Trump, in order to influence the 2016 election.
Nadler also noted Sunday that the Department of Justice, as a matter of law, does not believe a sitting president can be indicted.
“That’s what makes it even more important that all the evidence be given to Congress and the American people, because while the normal rule is — and it’s a good rule — that if you aren’t indicting someone because you don’t have enough evidence, you don’t then smear their name by saying they did these terrible things,” Nadler said. “If you aren’t indicting someone because you can’t as a matter of law, then you can’t hold the president accountable.”
Nadler said that if the Justice Department will not release the report voluntarily, he will issue a subpoena and said he is “absolutely” willing to take that subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court if he needs to.
“By the way, we are already hearing that the president may want to claim executive privilege on some of this,” Nadler added. “But the fact is, he has no right to claim executive privilege on any evidence of wrongdoing. Executive privilege cannot shield evidence of wrongdoing.”
The Supreme Court made that clear, the congressman noted, with its 9-0 decision ordering tapes made by former President Richard Nixon (D) be released, even though they contained personal conversations with the president and his close advisers.
Asked how long he would give the Justice Department to turn over the report before filing a subpoena, Nadler said he could not give a specific answer but said that it “won’t be months.”
Earlier this month, the House voted 420-0 in favor of the Mueller report being released to the public.
Attorney General William Barr, who received Mueller’s report on Friday, may give members of Congress a summary of the special counsel’s findings as early as Sunday afternoon, according to sources with knowledge of the process.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Nadler was from California. He is from New York.