Democrats Prepared to Subpoena Mueller and Take Fight Over Report to Court

WASHINGTON — Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that House Democrats were prepared to go to court to force the release of the final report from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and subpoena Mr. Mueller to testify if it was not made public.

Mr. Mueller, who has spent nearly two years investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice, is expected to submit his report to the Justice Department in the coming weeks, but the department is not required to release it.

“We will take it to court if necessary,” Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And in the end, I think the department understands they’re going to have to make this public.”

Justice Department regulations dictate that Mr. Mueller must submit a confidential report outlining his investigation and decisions to the attorney general, William P. Barr, who will then submit a summary to Congress.

While he is required to explain the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Barr has discretion about what additional details he provides.

Mr. Barr, in his confirmation hearings, promised to be as transparent as possible under the special counsel regulations, which allow for discretion after criticism that the independent counsel Ken Starr’s lengthy report to Congress about President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with a White House intern was salacious.

But Mr. Barr’s expansive views of executive power, coupled with a memo he wrote arguing that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice by firing James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, have raised concerns among Democrats about his impartiality and his willingness to provide information that could be unflattering to the president.

Mr. Schiff’s suggestion that Mr. Mueller and his report could be subpoenaed is among several possibilities Democrats are considering as part of an effort to make the report public. But it is unclear how successful efforts to subpoena Mr. Mueller would be.

“I don’t know that you can,” Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said when asked about the possibility of subpoenaing the report on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

He declined to say whether his committee would also ask Mr. Mueller to testify, saying only that “I think we’ll have to wait and see what’s in the report.”

But Neal K. Katyal, who wrote the special counsel regulations in 1999, said Mr. Mueller’s testimony was “certainly possible” — and Mr. Barr is obligated to submit the report to Congress if the special counsel has found any indication of “potential wrongdoing” by the president.

“The overall intent of the regulations, it’s said time and time again, is public confidence in the administration of justice,” Mr. Katyal, who was also acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And any sort of suppressed report about presidential wrongdoing will flunk that test.”