If you had Adam Schiff down as the voice of reason in the House of Representatives, please collect your winnings. The House Intelligence chair announced this morning that he had negotiated a deal with the Department of Justice for more access to materials from Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe. It comes as a surprising counterpoint to Jerrold Nadler’s increasing bluster over contempt citations against William Barr and Don McGahn, among others:
A rare deal in this era of politics. Schiff statement pic.twitter.com/3GorlUltH1
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 22, 2019
Basically, the DoJ told Schiff to back off and let them do their jobs. To his credit, Schiff agreed:
The decision to postpone the business meeting — where Schiff was threatened to take an unspecified action against Attorney General William Barr for not complying with the committee’s subpoena for Mueller’s counterintelligence materials — is a rare sign of the Trump administration and a House panel successfully negotiating around a Democratic subpoena for documents.
Schiff had issued a subpoena for all of Mueller’s counterintelligence materials, but he had proposed that the Justice Department begin the effort by providing 12 specific sets of counterintelligence materials that were referenced in the Mueller report. The Justice Department wrote in a letter to Schiff Tuesday that it was continuing to review the initial tranche of 12 categories of documents Schiff wanted and would make them available “in relatively short order,” so long as he didn’t move forward with an action holding Barr in contempt of Congress.
This draws more than a contrast with House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler. It kills the “stonewalling” narrative that he’s been crafting through the use of impossible demands for privileged testimony and full release of unredacted material. It turns out that William Barr, who faces a contempt push from Nadler for refusing to submit to his tribunal-format hearing, actually negotiates in good faith with Democrats when they do the same with him.
It’s curious, too, that Schiff cut this deal just as Nancy Pelosi set up a meeting to discuss calls for impeachment within the House Democratic caucus. This deal takes the wind out of those sails, at least a bit, for the reasons above. Could that possibly be a coincidence? Or did Schiff work with Pelosi to demonstrate that impeachment is unnecessary at this point and to dial down the hysterics within her caucus? Schiff didn’t get much from the DoJ except what they had already been offering to give eventually, except perhaps a stronger commitment to a timeline.
Maybe it is just a coincidence … if one can believe in such things. If not, Pelosi may have demonstrated that she’s well versed in how to keep control of a House caucus, and may have kept her party from derailing itself. For now, anyway.