The Department of Justice is preparing to ask the White House to invoke executive privilege to prevent the release of the full report by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a letter Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening.
In the letter obtained by several news outlets, Boyd said the move is in response to Democrats’ plans to vote on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt on Wednesday, following a breakdown in discussions between House Judiciary Committee staffers and the DOJ. The Justice Department reportedly offered to let the 12 lawmakers whom it’s already given permission to view a less redacted version of the report the chance to bring two staffers with them instead of one, sources familiar told Politico. The DOJ did not offer to allow additional lawmakers to view the report.
In a counterproposal later Tuesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) asked that the full Judiciary and Intelligence Committees from the House and Senate gain access to the less redacted report. Nadler also asked that a committee be formed to support lawmakers’ efforts to access grand jury material or, at the least, not oppose efforts to get it and he requested a meeting to schedule the release of underlying materials from Mueller’s probe.
The DOJ rejected that offer, calling it “unreasonable.”
In a statement Tuesday evening, Nadler called the decision to “abruptly” invoke executive privilege was “dangerous.”
“Tonight, in the middle of good faith negotiations with the Attorney General, the Department abruptly announced that it would instead ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege on all of the materials subject to our subpoena. This is, of course, not how executive privilege works. The White House waived these privileges long ago, and the Department seemed open to sharing these materials with us earlier today. The Department’s legal arguments are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.
“Worse, this kind of obstruction is dangerous. The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties. In the coming days, I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless Administration. The Committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover up. In the meantime, the Committee will proceed with consideration of the contempt citation as planned. I hope that the Department will think better of this last minute outburst and return to negotiations.”
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