The House Judiciary Committee Votes to Hold Attorney General William Barr in Contempt of Congress
Today May 8, 2019 the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress by a party-line vote of 24-16 (1). The vote comes after the Attorney General declined to testify before the House Judiciary Committee about his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report last week (2), and then subsequently refused to hand over the full, unredacted, report upon the committees’ subpoena for it (3). Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Nadler explaining that the Attorney General’s Office is “unable to honor your specific request for the completely unredacted Special Counsel’s report because disclosing grand-jury information… is prohibited by law… The Department has, however, provided you… with access to a version of the report that redacts only the grand jury information” (3). Nadler responded by saying, “we will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith” which he has now honored today (4). The decision now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote, and if confirmed would cause Barr to hand over the full report, however, the Assistant Attorney General notified Chairman Nadler in a letter today “that the President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials” (5). This has been confirmed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in announcement on Twitter stating, ” the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege” (6). Despite the President’s assertion of executive privilege, the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-12 today to reject this claim, Chairman Nadler saying it is “not a valid claim … because executive privilege has been broadly waived in this case as a matter of law and fact” (7).