Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is the leading Democrat demanding the release of the Mueller Report “in its entirety” without redactions.
His committee is planning to subpoena the Justice Department for the full report.
But back in 1998, as a member of the same committee, he vociferously opposed the release of the full Starr Report, saying that “as a matter of decency and protecting people’s privacy rights, people who may be totally innocent third parties, what must not be released at all.”
Then, the president was Bill Clinton. Now, it is a Republican, Donald Trump.
Ken Starr, the independent counsel investigating then-President Bill Clinton, delivered his report to Congress on Sept. 9, 1998. That night, Nadler went on Charlie Rose's show to push back against the Republican demand that the voluminous report should be made public. “It’s grand jury material. It represents statements which may or may not be true by various witnesses," Nadler said. "Salacious material. All kinds of material that it would be unfair to release,”
What Nadler, 71, said in 1998 echoes what Attorney General William Barr told Congress last week. Barr, 68, wrote that he might redact grand jury testimony, information related to ongoing investigations, sensitive or classified information, and “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties” from the report that he provides to Congress and the public.
In a New York Times op-ed Monday, Nadler wrote: “We — the members of the Judiciary Committee, the House of Representatives, and the entire American public — are still waiting to see that report… We have an obligation to read the full report, and the Department of Justice has an obligation to provide it, in its entirely, without delay.”
Twenty-one years ago, Nadler said that the Starr Report was inherently biased against Clinton: “'We should always remember this is a prosecutor's report — by its nature it's a one-sided report.” He complained about Clinton not being allowed to get a sneak peak at the Starr Report before it was made public: “The President is asking for two days. The Republicans say no.”
In October 1998, Nadler attacked the legitimacy of the independent counsel investigation: “Starr thinks he is going to be investigating things in four years … I find that astonishing and appalling. Is this a permanent inquisition against the president?” The language Nadler used was reminiscent of the “witch hunt” language used by Trump in reference to Mueller’s investigation.
In a February 1999 article in the New York Times, Nadler called the Starr Report and impeachment efforts by Republicans a “partisan coup d'etat.” He said he didn’t think Clinton had obstructed justice and that even if he had, it would not be an impeachable offense. “An impeachable offense is an abuse of Presidential power designed to or with the effect of undermining the structure or function of government, or undermining constitutional liberties,” Nadler said.
Last month, before Mueller had finished his investigation, Nadler was already claiming that “it’s very clear that the president obstructed justice.” He said impeachment was a possibility: "We have to do the investigations and get all this … We do not now have the evidence all sorted out to do an impeachment … Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen.”
Special counsel Mueller declined to charge anyone associated with the Trump campaign of coordination with the Russians, but did not reach a decision on obstruction. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Trump had not obstructed justice.