President Trump just threw a massive monkey wrench into the Democrat plan to hold William Barr in contempt of Congress.
Bizpacreview.com reported that just as the House Oversight and Reform Committee prepared to meet Wednesday to vote on contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr, President Trump invoked executive privilege over all the documents the panel had subpoenaed.
JUST IN: President Trump has asserted executive privilege over subpoenaed documents relating to the House Oversight Cmte.'s investigation into the Trump admin.'s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to a letter sent by DOJ to Chairman Cummings. pic.twitter.com/BwvNMF04G4
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 12, 2019
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings informed lawmakers Wednesday that the president had moved forward with what the Department of Justice had threatened to do if Wednesday’s meeting took place, saying “it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ mandated responsibilities.”
Cummings on President Trump asserting privilege to shield documents from bipartisan House subpoenas: “it appears to be another example of the administration's blanket defiance of Congress' mandated responsibilities.” https://t.co/2SC5JCldkW pic.twitter.com/R7ZGBBkeu6
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 12, 2019
This latest old move by the President escalates the feud with the Democrats who can’t let the “Mueller report” go, even after it exonerate President Trump.
Watch the video:
President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the House Oversight Committee’s census investigation as the committee said it would move forward with a planned Wednesday vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce SecretaryWilbur Ross in contempt of Congress.
The privilege assertion marks the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump Administration and House Democrats investigating Ross’ move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which Democrats claim was intended to intimidate immigrants and minorities, and depress the party’s representation across the country.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings has accused both the DOJ and Commerce Department of stonewalling his investigation by withholding documents and preventing witnesses requested by the committee from testifying on the issue.
Following the committee’s receipt of the privilege letter Wednesday, Cummings said he would postpone the contempt vote until Wednesday afternoon so members could read through it.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd argued in a letter Tuesday that the department has sought to engage in good faith with Cummings and handed over thousands of documents relevant to its investigation. Boyd accused the committee of refusing to engage with the department over a “limited subset” of the requested documents that might be privileged information.
“The Committee has failed to abide by the constitutionally mandated accommodation process by declining to negotiate over the scope of the subpoenaed materials or to recognize legitimate executive branch interest, as well as by its premature decision to schedule a contempt vote,” Boyd said in the letter.
Boyd also addressed criticism from the committee on the DOJ blocking testimony from John Gore, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil rights division. The department contends that Barr had only instructed Gore not to testify after the committee declined the department’s request to have counsel accompany him in his transcribed interview.
Reacting to the privilege letter in the committee hearing Wednesday, Cummings said it was part of a broader effort by the Trump Administration to dodge oversight from the legislative branch.
“[The Justice Department] has made very clear that they will not produce the key documents that we have identified as priorities,” Cummings said. “This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good faith negotiations or accommodations, instead it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”
The contempt vote comes just days after Barr reached a separate agreement with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler regarding his request for underlying documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Nadler similarly had his committee vote to hold Barr in contempt early last month for withholding those documents, which led Barr to request that Trump invoke executive privilege over the materials the committee requested.
However, Nadler announced on Monday that he was suspending any potential move to hold Barr in criminal contempt.
House Democrats did move forward on a separate resolution Tuesday allowing committee heads to go to court to seek the enforcement of subpoenas, which could speed up their plansto sue the administration for defying subpoenas related to the census, the president’s tax returns and other issues.