WASHINGTON — President Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report and the evidence he collected from Congress.
The assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same material.
“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen E. Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report but the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.
Executive privilege can’t be used to hide illegal conduct. The President and his lawyers know that.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 7, 2019
This is a desperate attempt to rewrite the rules, continue stonewalling Congress, and try to hide the President’s unethical conduct from the American people.
It won’t work. https://t.co/w9IiOqZwmA
Trump’s move to make a “protective” claim of executive privilege over the entire contents of Mueller’s report and his underlying evidence was in reaction to Congressman Nadler’s plan to hold Barr in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena to produce the report and evidence to Congress.
Nadler said the privilege claim could succeed as a delay tactic, even if it was certain to fail on the merits.
And it will fail. Any claim of executive privilege evaporated the moment the White House shared material with Mueller’s team during his 22-month investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia. The moment they revealed it to Mueller, they waived the privilege. Period. That’s black letter law.
The Justice Department has argued that Nadler’s effort to compel production of the report would require Barr to break laws protecting the secrecy of grand jury evidence that Mueller gathered. The DOJ also said that Democrats have rushed to take punitive action against the Justice Department without good faith negotiations.
In US v Nixon, the subpoenas issued from a court, not Congress, but the logic applies: executive privilege outside the national security context is not an absolute – and cannot be used to thwart law enforcement.
It is worth nothing that while Republicans were in charge of the House, House committees sought reams of info on ongoing investigations, the President backed their play, and it was turned over. Now that Democrats are in charge, he claims the same species of material is privileged
I don’t think the unredacted Mueller Report will shed any more light on Trump’s unethical involvement in L’Affaire Russe, as the redactions were minimal anyway.
But that is beside the point in many ways. Congress has a right to see the full report, since they are the ones who need to legislate against foreign meddling in the elections.
I’m not sure we’re yet in a constitutional crisis. What we are seeing is a straight-out attempt at a genuine, honest-to-God cover-up.
Kristol with the Rubio flashback to June 2012 when then-AG Holder was held in contempt of a GOP-led Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to “Fast and Furious” https://t.co/s3L2QLFGPe— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 8, 2019
Trump did not speak to reporters upon leaving the White House just now. He also closed his cabinet meeting to reporters earlier today, after it was listed as open to the pool. He’s successfully avoided commenting on two major stories: his taxes and executive privilege.— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) May 8, 2019
UPDATE 4:30 pm — Along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee votes to hold AG Bill Barr in contempt. It now goes to the full House.
/2— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) May 8, 2019
If the full House approves the contempt recommendation agaimat Barr, it would be only the second time in American history that an Attorney General was found to be in contempt of Congress. Theoretically, the Atty Gen. could be arrested
(it’s another slow news day, folks)
After the contempt vote, Rep. Jerry Nadler on Trump White House declaring it will resist all subpoenas: "We are now in a constitutional crisis."— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) May 8, 2019