The Mueller report said no evidence was found to indicate Trump’s campaign cooperated with any Russian actors prior to the election — but could not clear Trump of possible obstruction of justice
DESPARDES News Monitor — The United States House judiciary committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.
The committee voted 24-16 in favor of holding Barr in contempt for defying a subpoena to produce a full, unredacted version of the Robert Mueller report, in what House judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., described as “a very grave and momentous step.”
“We did not relish doing this, but we have no choice,” he said.
Nadler called today’s vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress “a very grave and momentous step.”
He went on to say the committee had no other choice but to take this action.
The Democratic congressman accused Barr of turning the Department of Justice “into an instrument of Trump personally rather than an instrument of justice and representative of the United States.”
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” Nadler declared.
The Department of Justice condemned the committee’s decision as “politically motivated and unnecessary.”
The department asked the committee to suspend enforcement of its subpoena, which was issued last month after Barr declined to provide the full version of the report.
“The attorney general could not comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena without violating the law, court rules and court orders and without threatening the independence of the Department’s prosecutorial functions,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege Wednesday to prevent the unredacted Mueller report from being released to Congress.
“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the president’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy,” Sanders added. “Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands.”
More than 400 former Justice Department officials said Monday that the Mueller report would have made the case for multiple felony counts of obstruction against President Trump had he not been protected from indictment by his office.
The officials, who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents at all levels of government, said the report describes multiple actions by Trump that would have satisfied the requirements for an obstruction charge.
Talks Tuesday between the Justice Department and committee staffers — at which both sides hoped to reach a compromise — broke down.
While Barr has declined to offer an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, he has given lawmakers an opportunity to see a less redacted version. Most lawmakers, however, have declined that offer. Six Republicans and six Democrats, including Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have viewed a version with fewer redactions and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to view it.
The push for the full report was first motivated by Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. The summary and, later, the redacted report said no evidence was found to indicate Trump’s campaign cooperated with any Russian actors prior to the election — but could not clear Trump of possible obstruction of justice.