Breaking: White House Declares Executive Privilege Over Unredacted Mueller Report

Ken AshfordBreaking News, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & Administration, White House SecrecyLeave a Comment

NY Times:

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.

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.

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.