There is still “plenty of evidence” of collusion, said Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, despite a letter from Attorney General William Barr indicating that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that the president did not conspire or coordinate with Russia during the 2016 election.
On the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Wednesday, Bharara said he believes that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has been unfairly disparaged by Republican committee members for continuing to bring up the issue of collusion.
The California Democrat, Bharara said, “is getting a lot of grief from the minority members, I think unfairly, because Adam Schiff has talked about collusion … this generic term for which there is plenty of evidence. Bob Mueller only made a decision about whether or not there was enough evidence to make a criminal case of conspiracy.”
Nine Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee called for Schiff’s resignation last month, stating that the chairman had been “at the center of a well-orchestrated media campaign claiming, among other things, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.”
On Wednesday, House Democrats moved forward with efforts to obtain the special counsel’s full report, voting to authorize subpoenas to the Justice Department. So far Congress’ only knowledge of the report has come from Barr’s letter to the lawmakers, which said that Mueller’s team found no evidence of conspiracy. Mueller’s report offered no conclusion on the matter of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.
During the podcast with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, Bharara was asked if the committee’s efforts to obtain the full report are appropriate.
“I think absolutely yes,” the former prosecutor replied. “That doesn’t mean that I necessarily believe at the end of the day that every single word and every single bit of punctuation should be made public.”
There may be a good faith reason for certain materials to be kept private, Bharara said.
“By the way, I think all the classified information should be provided to Congress,” he added.
Releasing the full materials to Congress, and particularly the chairs of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, would be different than releasing them to the broader public, Bharara said.
Bharara led the Southern District of New York for more than seven years and told Karl and Klein that he doesn’t know the specifics of its current investigations, but said, “It looks like, number one, they have the view that the president committed a campaign finance violation with Michael Cohen,” referring to the president’s former personal attorney.
“They are fearless and aggressive and independent,” Bharara said of the prosecutors at the Southern District. “But they’re also fearless and independent in the other direction. … They’ll walk away too. And I think that’s what you want in fair-minded prosecutors.”
Bharara’s praise for the office echoed parts of his new book, “Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law.” His book expresses the challenges that he and his colleagues faced as prosecutors, and the philosophies and practices they followed in seeking justice.
Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.