President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in response to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee that demanded an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and its underlying documentary evidence.
Fox News reported that Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler last week explaining the Department of Justice has made a less redacted version of the 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.”
On Tuesday night, the DOJ warned Nadler if the committee did not postpone a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not turning over the subpoenaed materials that the AG would recommend Trump invoke executive privilege.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement on Wednesday announcing the chief executive’s decision to do just that.
“Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” the White House said.
“The Attorney General has been transparent and accommodating throughout this process, including releasing the no-collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction Mueller Report to the public and offering to testify before the Committee,” the statement continued. “These attempts to work with the Committee have been flatly rejected. They didn’t like the results of the report, and now they want a redo.”
“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 White House stated.
Boyd informed Nadler in a letter on Wednesday morning that the “protective assertion of executive privilege ensures the President’s ability to make a final decision whether to assert privilege following a full review of these materials,” Fox News reported.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing later in the day before a scheduled vote to hold Barr in contempt, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said that the Democrat members of the panel are trying to punish the attorney general for doing his job.
“Bill Barr is following the law, and what’s his reward? Democrats are going to hold him in contempt,” Jordan said. “I don’t think today’s about getting information. I don’t think today’s about getting the unredacted Mueller report.”
“I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr, because Democrats are nervous he’s going to get to the bottom of everything,” the House Freedom Caucus member added. “He’s going to find out how and why this investigation started in the first place.”
Bill Barr is following the law. What’s his reward? Democrats are going to hold him in contempt. pic.twitter.com/slK3cXf3k2
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 8, 2019
Jordan then noted that Barr testified before the Senate last month that “there was a failure of leadership at the upper echelons.”
The congressman contended that was certainly the case, given the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI deputy head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok.
Additionally, former FBI general counsel James Baker has been demoted and is currently under investigation by the DOJ’s inspector general. FBI attorney Lisa Page was demoted before she took an early retirement last year.
Jordan also highlighted that Barr testified he believes there might have been both unauthorized surveillance and politically motivated “spying” of the Trump campaign.
The attorney general reaffirmed last week in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he is committed to reviewing the circumstances to the launch of the counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign in July 2016, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The push by Nadler to obtain the underlying materials for the special counsel’s report comes as Washington anticipates the release of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s findings in relation to potential abuse by the FBI of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain warrants to surveil the Trump team.
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