A U.S. Congressional committee on Wednesday will vote on whether to subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full, un-redacted report on Russia's role in the 2016 election.
It would mark an escalation in Democrats' efforts to look at the evidence uncovered by the 22-month investigation, and sets up a possible legal battle with the Trump administration.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS LEGAL CORRESPONDENT JAN WOLFE, SAYING: "It's really step one in what could be a very lengthy process." Reuters correspondent Jan Wolfe explains once the subpoena is issued, Attorney General William Barr could decide not to comply.
Congress could then vote to hold Barr in contempt, and then take him to court to force the report's release - a process that could take months or even years.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS LEGAL CORRESPONDENT JAN WOLFE, SAYING: "It would begin at a lower court, most likely, and then get appealed up and very likely end up at the Supreme Court.
That's a long process.
The wheels of justice move really slowly." According to the Justice Department, Mueller did not establish that Trump or his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to sway the election.
In a summary of the report, Barr said Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge the president with obstruction, although the special counsel did not exonerate the president on the question.
Barr has said he plans to make public a redacted copy of Mueller's report by mid-April.
But the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee is demanding access to the nearly 400-page, un-redacted report in full.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS LEGAL CORRESPONDENT JAN WOLFE, SAYING: "It's hard to know how successful Democrats would be at enforcing the subpoena in court because we don't know the kind of redactions Barr is going to make yet.
Some redactions, minimal ones would probably have a sound legal basis.
Heavy redactions, that might look like a bit of an effort to sanitize it, to protect the President and in that case we'd see a more protracted battle." And while President Donald Tump has called the report a "total exoneration," he's backed off supporting a public release.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I think it's ridiculous.
We went through two years of the Mueller investigation, we have, not only that you read the wording it was proven, who could go through that and get wording where it was no collusion, no nothing." If lawmakers cannot come to an agreement with Barr on how much of the report they can see, the courts will be left to balance the need for secrecy in investigations with Congress' authority to conduct oversight.