As the House Judiciary Committee prepared to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, President Donald Trump made a last-ditch effort to protect him by asserting executive privilege over the Mueller report.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) moved to hold Barr in contempt after he refused to appear before the committee last week and refused to comply with a congressional subpoena requiring him to release the unredacted report and underlying evidence Mueller used to make his determinations, which includes ten instances of obstruction of justice.
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Being held in contempt opens Barr up to being arrested and jailed under Congress’ authority until he complies.
Prior to the vote, however, the Justice Department sent a letter to Nadler announcing Trump’s assertion.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd accused the committee of refusing to “compromise” and complained that Nadler would not delay the contempt vote before informing him that Trump has declared executive privilege over “the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.”
“Regrettably, you have made this assertion necessary by your insistence upon scheduling a premature contempt vote,” Boyd concluded.
Here’s the full letter via Twitter:
Here’s DOJ’s letter confirming Trump’s assertion of privilege: pic.twitter.com/mDZWQIqLuK
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 8, 2019
In response to the letter, Nadler pointed out that Trump waved privilege “long ago” and that his desperate Hail Mary is “utterly without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.”
“In the middle of good faith negotiations with the Attorney General, the Department abruptly announced that it would instead ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege on all of the materials subject to our subpoena,” Nadler said. “This is, of course, not how executive privilege works. The White House waived these privileges long ago, and the Department seemed open to sharing these materials with us earlier today. The Department’s legal arguments are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.”
Now the matter appears to be heading toward a long court battle. And House Democrats could also have Barr arrested and jailed. Trump is clearly desperate to keep these unredacted parts of the Mueller report and the underlying evidence hidden from Congress and the American people. It’s time for Democrats to start playing hardball, and if that means impeachment, so be it. Because a “totally exonerated” man does not behave this way.
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