The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to recommend holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congess.
The 24-16 vote along party lines followed an angry 6-hour debate over Barr’s refusal to submit to a committee subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller report on Russia, the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump campaign.
“Democrats and Republicans assailed each other,” says the Washington Post, “with the majority accusing the minority of trying to hide the fuller Mueller report from the public while the Republicans said Democrats were being overzealous in their probes.”
The ongoing clash between Congressional Democrats and President Trump over the Mueller report has turned into a full-blown “Constitutional crisis,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on Wednesday.
Nadler made the statement at the start of the hearing on holding Attorney General Barr in contempt, and shortly after Trump asserted executive privilege over the report in an effort to block lawmakers from seeing it in unredacted form.
“The assertion of privilege was broad — covering all of the underlying materials from Mueller’s investigation, such as reports of interviews and notes of witnesses, as well as the entire, unredacted Mueller report,” says the New York Times.
Nadler told CNN that Trump is “disobeying the law, is refusing all information to Congress.”
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd notified Nadler of the president’s action in a letter sent late Tuesday night, blaming the committee for the decision: “Regrettably,” he wrote, “ you have made this assertion necessary by your insistence upon scheduline a premature contempt vote.”
Republicans sought to turn the debate back to Mueller’s Russia investigation and accused the FBI of anti-Trump bias — which, they insisted, Barr was trying to blunt by withholding portions of the special counsel’s report.
“Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his response? Democrats are going to hold him contempt,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). “I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous that he’s going to get to the bottom of everything.”
Democrats weren’t having it, and denounced Trump’s action in the strongest terms.
“I can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). “For the first time in the history of the United States, a president is now exerting executive privilege over every aspect of life … anything that Congress wants to do on behalf of the American people is now alleged to be under the jurisdiction of privilege.”