House panel votes to hold AG Barr in contempt
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report (all times local):
The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, escalating the legal battle with the Trump administration over access to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The committee voted 24-16 to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats’ demands for the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence. Ahead of the vote, President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over those materials and reserved the right to block them.
The contempt resolution against Barr now moves to the full House. If it is approved, it would trigger a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, which would decide whether to prosecute.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the panel had to act because Trump’s stonewalling is creating a “constitutional crisis.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says President Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is a clear escalation of his administration’s “blanket defiance” of Congress.
Nadler made the comments ahead of a committee vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. The committee is moving to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats’ demands for a fuller version of Mueller’s report and other documents.
Executive privilege is the president’s power to keep information from the courts, Congress and the public to protect the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process. Asserting privilege would allow Trump to withhold the Mueller materials from Congress.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had to assert privilege due to Nadler’s “blatant abuse of power.”
The Justice Department says President Donald Trump has exerted executive privilege over the full Mueller report and other investigative records that had been subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says Wednesday that the Justice Department is also ending its negotiations with the committee.
Boyd says the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, scheduled an “unnecessary contempt vote.”
Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of Mueller’s report to the public last month, but Democrats want to see the full document, along with underlying evidence.
The Justice Department has rejected that demand, but allowed a handful of congressional leaders to view a less redacted version.
President Donald Trump is invoking executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and other documents subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. The claim would allow Trump to withhold those materials from Congress.
The House Judiciary Committee is meeting to decide whether to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not turning over the full report and certain other materials.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says in a statement that: “Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says there’s a “constitutional crisis” over the Trump administration’s refusal to provide Congress with a fuller copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia investigation.
The New York Democrat told CNN on Wednesday the committee will move forward with a Wednesday morning vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the panel’s subpoena for a fuller copy.
Talks between the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department failed to reach an agreement Tuesday on releasing more of the report to a broader group of lawmakers on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. The Justice Department indicated the White House might invoke executive privilege to block the release.
Nadler told CNN the country faced “a constitutional crisis” because “the president is disobeying the law, is refusing all information to Congress.”
He said he had hoped the administration would change course ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled vote.