House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler reasserted his claim that the Trump campaign is guilty of “cooperating” with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Nadler’s claim followed a vote in the Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over a fully unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, along with the underlying documentary evidence.
The committee’s 24-16 vote to hold Barr in contempt fell along party lines, Fox News reported.
“We did not relish doing this, but we have no choice,” Nadler said after the vote, adding, “We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it.”
Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec described the vote as “politically motivated.”
“Unfortunately, rather than allowing negotiations to continue, Chairman Nadler short-circuited these efforts by proceeding with a politically motivated and unnecessary contempt vote, which he refused to postpone to allow additional time to explore discussion and compromise,” Kupec said.
Nadler accused the Trump administration of stonewalling Congress by denying the materials it has subpoenaed.
“This is stonewalling information with respect to the Russian attack on our democracy in 2016, with respect to the president’s campaign cooperation with that attack, to the president’s obstructions of justice in seeking to stop the investigation of that attack,” the New York Democrat said. (The relevant portion of the video below starts at 2:25).
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to Nadler last week explaining that the Department of Justice has made a less redacted version of the Mueller report available to key members of Congress, including him.
That version permits “review of 98.5 percent of the report, including 99.9 percent of Volume II, which discusses the investigation of the President’s actions.”
“Regrettably, before even reviewing the less-redacted version or awaiting the Attorney General’s testimony, you served a subpoena …” Boyd wrote in his letter to Nadler.
“You served such a subpoena knowing that the Department could not lawfully provide the unredacted report, that the Committee lacks any legitimate legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files, and that processing your requests would impose a significant burden on the Department.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated that point to reporters ahead of Wednesday’s contempt vote.
“Chairman Nadler is asking the attorney general of the United States to break the law and releasing information that he knows he has no legal authority to have,” she said.
“It’s truly outrageous and absurd what the chairman is doing and he should be ashamed that he’s behaving this way,” Sanders added.
Sarah Sanders on Rep. Nadler: “It’s truly outrageous and absurd what the chairman is doing and he should be ashamed that he’s behaving this way.” pic.twitter.com/E5iIA9HYB2
— The Hill (@thehill) May 8, 2019
Under federal law, Barr is not able to release information from grand jury proceedings.
Nadler told reporters after the contempt vote he wants the attorney general to agree to support his committee’s petition at federal court to obtain the release of grand jury information.
The White House announced on Wednesday it will assert executive privilege over the subpoenaed material.
“Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” the statement read in part.
Following Wednesday’s vote, Nadler said the committee will refer the contempt matter to the full House of Representatives where he anticipates a quick vote.
Then he said House Democrats will most likely be filing a civil suit in federal court against Barr.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The two sides are headed for a constitutional showdown in the federal court system — and likely will end up in the Supreme Court. The high court has never considered a case on whether congressional demands for information can overcome an executive-privilege claim by an administration.”
Nadler cited the landmark case United States v. Nixon (1974), which took place at the height of the Watergate scandal.
However, that ruling against then-President Richard Nixon was in relation to a grand jury subpoena during the course of a criminal inquiry.
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