By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday began a marathon reading of the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The reading began at noon EDT (1700 GMT) and was expected to take 12 to 14 hours. For those who could not make it to the Capitol hearing room to listen, it was being broadcast on C-SPAN and lawmakers plan to release a podcast version. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, one of the top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, started the reading and nearly two dozen of her colleagues were to take part.
“There [are] a lot of average people who have not seen the Mueller report,” Representative Sylvia Garcia, another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said ahead of Scanlon kicking off the reading.
“So this is an attempt to make sure that person who is curious, who doesn’t have the full time to dive through all this, to be able to listen to it and to understand what this is really all about.”
Mueller’s report described numerous links between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and various Russians but did not find sufficient evidence to establish there was a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.
The report also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s investigation but stopped short of declaring the president had committed a crime.
Democrats, who control the House, are sparring with the White House over numerous investigations into Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia, the president’s business dealings and administration policies.
Democrats have requested an unredacted version of Muller’s report, six years of Trump’s individual and business tax returns and background on decisions made by the administration on security clearances and the separation of migrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The deadline for the administration to respond to a subpoena for the unredacted report passed without being met. Trump has sued to block a congressional subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm. The White House has directed key staff not to cooperate with various House probes.
Democrats are now considering contempt resolutions against top administration officials, with votes expected as early as June.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Peter Cooney)