Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

US House Democrats vote to hold Barr in contempt

The Guardian

Democrats in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to hold US Attorney General William Barr in contempt of the US Congress, citing his failure to hand over the full, unredacted version of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The Democratic-led House Committee on the Judiciary approved the resolution to hold Barr in contempt by a party-line vote of 24-16 in a dramatic escalation of a conflict between Democrats on Capitol Hill and the administration of US President Donald Trump.

“No person — and certainly not the top law enforcement officer in the country — can be permitted to flout the will of Congress and to defy a valid subpoena,” committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said. “It is our constitutional duty to respond.”

Nadler’s committee has subpoenaed the full Mueller report.

The White House swiftly retaliated against Democrats by invoking executive privilege to block the committee’s request for the unredacted Mueller report, saying that Nadler’s demands were “unlawful and reckless.”

“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 Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The contempt vote came after Barr declined to meet a Monday deadline to provide Congress with an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, detailing the special counsel’s findings after a two-year investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Barr has instead made a less-redacted version of the report available to select members of Congress, who are prohibited from discussing the document with their colleagues.

The committee spent much of Wednesday morning sparring over the conclusions of the Mueller report, with Republicans accusing Democrats of leading a politically motivated crusade against Trump.

However, Democrats insisted that lawmakers had a right to review the Mueller report in full, saying that Mueller had squarely placed the findings of his investigation in the hands of Congress.

The president’s decision to invoke executive privilege and block the Democrats’ subpoena “was a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said.

The hearing was held after a series of 11th-hour negotiations between Nadler’s panel and the US Department of Justice over the report failed to break the stalemate, prompting Democrats to charge ahead with the contempt vote — the first time they have used their majority to take punitive action against a Trump administration official.

Democrats have voiced frustration with Barr’s handling of the report, suggesting that the attorney general’s actions were designed to protect the president.

Barr has on multiple occasions characterized the report in ways that appeared to absolve Trump of wrongdoing, even though a redacted version of the Mueller report released on April 18 showed nearly a dozen instances in which the president or his campaign sought to obstruct justice.

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