House committee votes to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt

Committee Chair Jerry Nadler begins a House Judiciary Committee hearing on

Committee Chair Jerry Nadler begins a House Judiciary Committee hearing on"The Justice Department's investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, that U.S. Attorney General Barr was

In an interview with CNN, Mr Nadler said Mr Trump "wants to make himself a king, and Congress can not permit that".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blasted Nadler's request for the unredacted Mueller report.

"It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics", DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement, adding that no one force the Department of Justice to break the law by handing over documents that can not be disclosed.

Democrats must explain to voters that the precedent Trump is setting would have made impeachment of Richard M. Nixon impossible (the House eventually went to court to get the unredacted report from the independent prosecutor), would make it impossible to investigate future presidents and would be a green light for president to engage in wrongdoing knowing they can stonewall Congress while simultaneously avoiding indictment. "This blanket assertion by Barr and the White House shows this isn't about legal arguments but political stonewalling". Former White House counsel Don McGahn has also agreed to defy a subpoena from House Democrats. Why?

Trump's assertion of protective executive privilege over subpoenaed documents has no direct bearing on Mueller testifying before the House, according to a Justice Department official.

A claim of executive privilege is generally on its strongest footing when invoked in the interest of national security, though presidents have attempted to use it more broadly.

Democrats on the committee said the Trump administration was trampling on Congress's duty to conduct oversight.

In a letter to Nadler, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said Barr could not comply with the subpoena "without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice's prosecutorial functions".

The measure may be largely symbolic as few expect the Department of Justice to indict its own head with criminal contempt.

Two examples demonstrate House Democrats' true motivation.

Trump says Mueller should not testify on Russian Federation probe
According to CNN , Harris said in the letter that, "Such inappropriate requests by the President have been well documented". A redacted version of the document has been released; congressional Democrats are battling with Barr to get the full report.

Instead, he said, McGahn will allow the White House to proceed in its plans to negotiate directly with the committee over the subpoena for records.

Klobuchar also continued to harp on the unfounded accusation that Barr lied during an earlier appearance before Congress by saying he could not surmise the reasons Mueller's office might object to his four-page release of the report findings.

If the committee holds Barr in contempt, it would be the first step in what could be a protracted, multipronged court battle between Congress and President Trump's administration.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer later released a statement criticizing the Senate's top Republican over his statement. "I can't imagine a more illogical hill for a legislator to die on", Collins said in a statement.

Committee Republicans condemned the move to hold Barr in contempt. About 10 percent of the Mueller report was redacted, at times clearly because it involved information relevant to the upcoming trial of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone.

In the 48 hours since the Judiciary Committee announced it would hold contempt proceedings on Monday, the Trump Administration issued a flurry of rejections for congressional requests, adding to an already deep pile.

But in a rare show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee pressed the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in an April 25 letter, to turn over an unredacted copy of the Mueller report and "all classified and unclassified" evidence relating to foreign spying or counterintelligence.

Mr Barr has previously said he would not mind Mr Mueller testifying before Congress.

Nadler, in return, called the letter "dangerous", and insisted on holding the contempt vote Wednesday morning - a position echoed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrat of NY, had been working with the Justice Department toward an accommodation over the material. The Obama Justice Department decline to indict Holder, which is the same likely path the Trump Justice Department would follow if Barr is charged with contempt by the House as a whole.

Mueller did not conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either. McConnell said Democrats are "grieving" the result.

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