Judiciary Committee finds Barr in contempt
by Harvest Prude
Posted 5/08/19, 05:08 pm
UPDATE: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress on Wednesday. The resolution passed by a vote of 24-16 along party lines and now moves on to the full House for consideration.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (2:20 p.m.): WASHINGTON—The House Judiciary Committee is considering Wednesday whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for withholding an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative report. The contempt resolution is expected to pass in the committee along party lines and be taken up by the House, in which Democrats hold a 38-seat majority.
On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over the unredacted portions of Mueller’s report and underlying evidence. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said, “The attorney general could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law.”
Barr wrote to Trump on Wednesday asking him to invoke executive privilege, which allows the president to withhold certain information from Congress and the courts, because the House Judiciary Committee “declined to grant sufficient time to conduct a full review.” In its subpoena of the report, Barr said the committee demanded “all of the special counsel’s investigative files, which consist of millions of pages of classified and unclassified documents bearing upon more than two dozen criminal cases and investigations, many of which are ongoing.”
Barr in April released a redacted version of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He also sent Congress a version with only grand jury testimony redacted for lawmakers to view.
Nadler said the assertion of executive privilege “reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties.”
Either chamber of Congress can issue a contempt citation if an individual does not comply with a congressional subpoena. Congress can also file a civil suit in federal court to seek enforcement of a subpoena. Following a full House vote, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who reports to the Department of Justice, will decide whether to pursue prosecution.
In 2012, a Republican-majority House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding documents about a botched firearms tracking operation against Mexican drug cartels. President Barack Obama’s Justice Department declined to prosecute Holder, citing executive privilege.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.