UNITED STATES- The White House asserted executive privilege over the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report as a House panel was poised to vote on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not releasing it to Congress.
“We are disappointed that you have rejected the Department of Justice’s request to delay the vote of the Committee on the Judiciary on a contempt finding against the Attorney General this morning,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
The New York Democrat dismissed the White House’s attempt by saying the administration had waived the privilege long ago when it allowed officials — including former White House counsel Don McGahn — to be interviewed by Mueller’s prosecutors.
“This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated duty,” Nadler said. “As a coequal branch of government, we must have access to the materials that we need to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities.”
Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the panel, said Democrats are taking their anger out on Barr because Mueller’s report failed to find that Trump or any of his campaign associates colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election.
“Our Democratic colleagues are apparently really ticked off about the Mueller report that it found that the whole Russian collusion thing was a big fat zero,” Collins said.
He also said Democrats are fearful that Barr will launch an investigation into the origins of the “bogus” Russia investigation and into Hillary Clinton campaign’s funding of the Christopher Steele dossier and alleged spying on the Trump campaign by the Obama administration.
“The true investigation which is really about to happen might just be to destroy the credibility of the guy who’s doing the investigation, Attorney General William Barr,” Collins said.
The White House said it had no other options than to assert executive privilege.
“The Attorney General has been transparent and accommodating throughout this process, including by releasing the no-collusion, no-conspiracy, no-obstruction Mueller Report to the public and offering to testify before the Committee,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “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.”
Barr failed to meet a Monday deadline to turn over an unredacted version of Mueller’s report to the committee.