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Friday August 23rd, 2019 3:51AM

The Latest: House lawmakers begin Russia probe hearing

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and hearings on special counsel Robert Mueller's report (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

House lawmakers have officially started their hearing to examine whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, the first of several hearings scheduled by Democrats on special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear from witnesses including John Dean, a star witness from Watergate who helped bring down Richard Nixon's presidency, and former U.S. attorneys.

House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler said the panel will continue to "unpack the work" of Mueller in future hearings.

Mueller said in his report that he couldn't exonerate Trump on obstruction, though he said there was not enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Nadler said Trump's campaign "took full advantage of the attack" from Russia.

___

12:30 p.m.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says the Justice Department has agreed to turn over some of the underlying evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller's report, including files used to assess whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler says the department will begin complying with the committee's subpoena Monday and provide some of Mueller's "most important files." He said all the members of the committee will be able to view them.

The Justice Department did not have an immediate comment.

In response to the agreement, Nadler said the panel will not hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt, for now. But the House is still expected to vote on a resolution Tuesday that would empower the committee to file a lawsuit for the materials.

___

9:20 a.m.

Former White House counsel and Watergate star witness John Dean says he'll be providing a House panel "some context" and comparison between investigations during President Richard Nixon's administration and that of President Donald Trump.

Dean cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down Nixon's presidency. He told CNN he'll tell the House Judiciary Committee on Monday "how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now, as reported in the Mueller report, is."

Dean says he'll focus on the question of obstruction of justice in his testimony.

Special counsel Robert Mueller investigated Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with Trump's campaign. Mueller did not reach a determination on whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe by taking actions such as firing FBI Director James Comey. Mueller said charging the president with a crime was "not an option" because of federal rules.

Dean tells CNN that Comey's firing "was certainly not dissimilar from some of the actions Nixon took."

In 1973, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, but Richardson refused and resigned.

Trump calls Mueller's probe a "witch hunt."

__

12:20 a.m.

Top Democratic leaders may be in no rush to launch an impeachment inquiry but the party is launching a series of hearings this week on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The slate of hearings on the Russia probe means lawmakers are picking up the pace on an investigation that some in the party hope leads to impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Democrats are trying to draw attention to allegations that Trump sought to obstruct a federal investigation, and they want to highlight his campaign's contacts with Russia during the 2016 election.

They'll lay the groundwork for an appearance from Mueller himself, despite his stated desire to avoid the spotlight.

The hearings will focus on the two main topics of Mueller's report, obstruction of justice and Russian election interference.

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