House Democrats received a warning Wednesday that waging war against Attorney General William Barr for not giving in to their demands will be a huge mistake.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress because Barr has refused to give Congress a fully unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
On Wednesday, constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, testified before the committee on issues related to executive privilege and congressional oversight.
Turley warned Democrats against continuing their quest to get their hands on the full Mueller report.
“You are heading into a world of hurt if you go to the D.C. Circuit,” Turley said, according to Fox News.
Turley said that Barr is prevented by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure from disclosing secret grand jury information that has been redacted in the Mueller report.
The D.C. Circuit, which would hear any case Democrats pursue against Barr, recently ruled in the case of McKeever v. Barr that, outside of specific exceptions outlined in what is known as Rule 6(e), courts cannot order the release of grand jury information.
“There’s no question that he cannot release this Rule 6(e) information,” Turley said, adding that Barr’s position is “unassailable.”
“I encourage you not to push that button because my guess is that it will create new precedent, and you wouldn’t like it,” he said, according to The Washington Times.
Turley also said Democrats are unlikely to win if they try to fight President Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege with regard to information shared with Mueller.
“I strongly encourage you not to make that argument in federal court,” he said according to Fox News, noting that case law is firm on the matter.
Turley had earlier written an Op-Ed on the subject for The Hill.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 10, 2019
In the Op-Ed, he castigated Democrats for using Barr’s confirmation hearings as a time to demand Barr agree to provide them with an unredacted report. Democrats, wrote Barr, were “asking Barr to commit to a potential criminal act to secure his own confirmation. The report inevitably would contain some grand jury material, which under the law is information that cannot be publicly released without a court order. It is a crime to unveil such information.”
Turley said Barr kept his word to make as much of the report published as he legally could.
“Just 8 percent of the public report was redacted, largely to remove material that could undermine ongoing investigations. The sealed version of the report given to Congress only had 2 percent redacted. Democrats are therefore seeking a contempt sanction on a report that is 98 percent disclosed and only lacks grand jury material,” Turley wrote.
Turley noted that the redacted information has become the Democrats’ last hope that the Mueller report would be the smoking gun they wanted it to be.
This tiny slice of the Mueller report has Jerry Nadler declaring a “constitutional crisis.” What a farce. https://t.co/7MLRliIxzX
— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 9, 2019
“Faced with a report that rejected the collusion theories of their running narrative, Democrats want to focus on those 2 percent of redactions rather than over 400 pages of findings,” he wrote.
“Democrats are launching the weakest possible contempt claim against the administration in a civil action with a long track through the courts. In the end, there is utter contempt in this action, but not in the case of Barr,” he wrote.
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