President Trump on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s entire unredacted report and the underlying evidence, the Justice Department said.
The move came just hours before the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena to turn over Mueller’s unredacted report and all underlying materials.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), that because the committee rejected the Justice Department’s request to delay the contempt hearing against Barr, negotiations over any accommodations would be terminated.
“As we have repeatedly explained, the attorney general could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,” Boyd wrote. “Accordingly, this is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described Nadler’s demand as a “blatant abuse of power.”
“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,” Sanders said in a statement. “It is sad that Chairman Nadler is only interested in pandering to the press and pleasing his radical left constituency. The American people deserve a Congress that is focused on solving real problems like the crisis at the border, high prescription drug prices, our country’s crumbling infrastructure, and so much more.”
“As a co-equal branch of government, we must have access to the materials that we need to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities in a manner consistent with past precedent,” Nadler said Wednesday. “The administration has announced — loud and clear — that it does not recognize Congress as a co-equal branch with independent constitutional oversight authority and it will continue to wage its campaign of obstruction.”