According to The Washington Post, on Wednesday Trump asserted executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. This came after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to give an unredacted version of the Mueller report. Democrats want to examine Mueller’s material to determine if Trump should be impeached.
Despite a congressional subpoena, the Justice Department would not release the information. The Trump Administration gave legal reasons for their decision to decline the request.
“As we have repeatedly explained, the Attorney General could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a letter to Congress, asserting executive privilege.
Democrats argue that if Trump had nothing to hide, he would not block Mueller’s findings.
“This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said, adding: “As a coequal branch of government, we must have access to the materials that we need to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities in a manner consistent with past precedent.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded, saying: “The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the president’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” Sanders said. “Faced with 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.”
The assertion of executive privilege covered all materials from Mueller’s investigation as well as the whole unredacted Mueller report. According to the Justice Department, it was important for the White House to assert executive privilege prior to the House vote on contempt. A person familiar with the proceedings said doing so would invalidate the citation. Barr couldn’t legitimately be held in contempt for withholding materials that the president has asserted executive privilege over.
Democrats accused Republicans of trying to hide the full Mueller report from the public. Republicans said Democrats were being too fervent with their probes.
“The attorney general of the United States refused to provide information that is not privilege and is subject to a subpoena,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). “There is no privilege for this information. Executive privilege is not a cloak of secrecy that drapes across” Washington, he said.
Republicans defended Barr. “Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his response? Democrats are going to hold him contempt,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), “I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous that he’s going to get to the bottom of everything.”
Barr asked Trump on Wednesday morning to assert privilege because the Judiciary Committee “declined to grant sufficient time” for the Justice Department to review the materials Mueller had gathered.
“In these circumstances,” Barr wrote, “you may properly assert executive privilege with respect to the entirety of the Department of Justice materials that the Committee has demanded, pending a final decision on the matter.”
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