President Trump Invokes Executive Privilege Before House Panel Vote To Hold Attorney General Barr In Contempt

House committee votes to hold AG William Barr in contempt of Congress

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The vote followed President Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege Wednesday over special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report and related materials sought by Democrats on the committee.

The vote also comes after the Justice Department missed a Monday deadline to turn over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s report on Russian election meddling.

Update 5:15 p.m. EDT May 8: The Department of Justice responded to the House Judiciary Committee vote to hold Attorney Gen. William Barr in contempt of Congress, calling the vote “politically motivated and unnecessary,” according to CNN.

“It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics," DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

“The accommodation process between co-equal branches of government is supposed to be a two-way street. Unfortunately, the only side who has made accommodations is the attorney general, who made extraordinary efforts to provide Congress and the public with information about the special counsel’s work,” Kupec said. 

Update 5:01 p.m. EDT May 8: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler told reporters after the committee vote Wednesday to hold Attorney Gen. William Barr in contempt of Congress that the nation is in a dire situation.

“We did not relish doing this, but we had no choice,” Nadler said.

Nadler accused Barr of misleading Congress and the public “twice” on the contents of the Mueller report and said Barr is essentially President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

“We are now in a Constitutional crisis,” he said.

Update 4:40 p.m. EDT May 8: The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 to hold Barr in contempt of Congress in an escalating feud between Democrats and the Trump administration over release of the full unredacted Mueller report.

The measure now goes to the full House  for a vote.

Update 10:30 a.m. EDT May 8: White House Press Secretary Sarah Hucakbee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday that President Donald Trump will invoke executive privilege over the unredacted Mueller report and other materials Democrats have demanded.

The statement was released as the House Judiciary Committee considered a measure to hold Barr in contempt for his failure to release the full report the to panel.

“Faced with Chairman (Jerrold) 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,” Huckabee Sanders said.

 

Nadler said Wednesday that lawmakers felt they had no choice but to hold Barr in contempt.

“This is not a step we take lightly," he said. “As a co-equal branch of government, we must have access to the materials we need to fulfill our constitutional responsibility in a manner consistent with past presidents.”

Update 10 a.m. EDT May 8: Lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday morning.

 

Original report: Democrats on the committee vowed to subpoena Barr for the full 448-page Mueller report after the Justice Department released a redacted version last month. The committee gave Barr until 9 a.m. Monday to comply with its request for the full report.

>> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Democrats move to hold Attorney General in contempt

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement Monday that, on its own, the redacted report “offers disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels.”

“Congress must see the full report an underlying evidence to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation and other constitutional responsibilities,” Nadler said.

>> Read the resolution from the House Judiciary Committee 

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate the contempt resolution and vote on whether to pass it at a hearing starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. If the committee chooses to hold Barr in contempt, the vote will go to the full House to determine whether to authorize legal proceedings against the attorney general.

>> William Barr contempt order: What is contempt of Congress; how does it work?

Barr skipped a scheduled hearing with the Judiciary panel last week amid a dispute over how he would be questioned. Hours later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she believed the attorney general had lied about his communications with Mueller in testimony last month, and that was a "crime." Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called Pelosi's accusation "reckless, irresponsible and false."

>> Rep. Steve Cohen brings prop chicken to criticize Barr no-show at House hearing 

Republicans have sharply criticized Democrats as they have battled Trump's administration over the Mueller report, subpoenaed multiple administration witnesses and made efforts to gain access to Trump's personal and business financial records. Trump has said he will fight "all the subpoenas."

>> Trump: 'We're fighting all the subpoenas'

Barr released a redacted version of Mueller’s report at the end of the special counsel’s 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials. In the report, Mueller said his team found no evidence of collusion, but he declined to make a decision on whether there was enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.

Barr later declined to prosecute Trump.

Mueller Report: Key Findings from the Investigation

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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