House panel votes to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

Posted: May 8, 2019 10:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

The vote Wednesday capped a day of ever-deepening dispute between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump, who invoked executive privilege to block lawmakers from the full report on Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York declared the action by Trump's Justice Department a clear new sign of the president's "blanket defiance" of Congress' constitutional rights to conduct oversight.

Nadler said after the contempt vote, "We did not relish doing this, but we have no choice."

But Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec says it was disappointing that members of Congress "have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics."

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7:10 p.m.

The House intelligence committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department for special counsel Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report and underlying evidence.

The subpoena comes the same day that the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing the same materials. The intelligence committee subpoena requires Barr to produce the documents by May 15.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the top Republican on the committee, California Rep. Devin Nunes, have asked for the unredacted Mueller report for several weeks.

Schiff says in a statement that the Justice Department "has repeatedly failed to respond, refused to schedule any testimony, and provided no documents responsive to our legitimate and duly authorized oversight activities."

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5:05 p.m.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says the panel's recommendation to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress will come before the full House for a vote soon.

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York calls the committee's vote Wednesday a "grave and momentous step" as Congress battles the Trump administration for access to a full version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Trump-Russia probe.

The panel voted along party lines. Ahead of voting, the White House invoked executive privilege, claiming the right to block lawmakers from the seeing the full document.

Nadler says Democrats on the committee "did not relish doing this" but "have no choice." He calls the executive privilege claim an "assertion of tyrannical power by the president" that "cannot stand."

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5 p.m.

The Justice Department says the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has held a "politically motivated and unnecessary contempt vote."

The statement comes after the committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena. The panel sought a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe and underlying investigative documents.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec says it is disappointing that members of Congress "have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics."

She says Barr made "extraordinary efforts" to provide Congress and the public with information about Mueller's work.

The contempt resolution against Barr now moves to the full House.

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4:30 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, escalating the legal battle with the Trump administration over access to special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The committee voted 24-16 to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats' demands for the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence. Ahead of the vote, President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over those materials and reserved the right to block them.

The contempt resolution against Barr now moves to the full House. If it is approved, it would trigger a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, which would decide whether to prosecute.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the panel had to act because Trump's stonewalling is creating a "constitutional crisis."

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10:40 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says President Donald Trump's assertion of executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller's report is a clear escalation of his administration's "blanket defiance" of Congress.

Nadler made the comments ahead of a committee vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. The committee is moving to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats' demands for a fuller version of Mueller's report and other documents.

Executive privilege is the president's power to keep information from the courts, Congress and the public to protect the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process. Asserting privilege would allow Trump to withhold the Mueller materials from Congress.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had to assert privilege due to Nadler's "blatant abuse of power."

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10:35 a.m.

The Justice Department says President Donald Trump has exerted executive privilege over the full Mueller report and other investigative records that had been subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says Wednesday that the Justice Department is also ending its negotiations with the committee.

Boyd says the committee's chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, scheduled an "unnecessary contempt vote."

Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of Mueller's report to the public last month, but Democrats want to see the full document, along with underlying evidence.

The Justice Department has rejected that demand, but allowed a handful of congressional leaders to view a less redacted version.

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10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is invoking executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report and other documents subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. The claim would allow Trump to withhold those materials from Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee is meeting to decide whether to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not turning over the full report and certain other materials.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says in a statement that: "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."

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8:50 a.m.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says there's a "constitutional crisis" over the Trump administration's refusal to provide Congress with a fuller copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his Russia investigation.

The New York Democrat told CNN on Wednesday the committee will move forward with a Wednesday morning vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the panel's subpoena for a fuller copy.

Talks between the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department failed to reach an agreement Tuesday on releasing more of the report to a broader group of lawmakers on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. The Justice Department indicated the White House might invoke executive privilege to block the release.

Nadler told CNN the country faced "a constitutional crisis" because "the president is disobeying the law, is refusing all information to Congress."

He said he had hoped the administration would change course ahead of Wednesday's scheduled vote.

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12:38 a.m.

The House Judiciary Committee is moving ahead with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after last-minute negotiations stalled with the Justice Department over access to the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Barr released a redacted version of Mueller's report to the public last month, but Democrats want to see the full document, along with underlying evidence. The Justice Department has rejected that demand, while allowing a handful of lawmakers to view a less redacted version.

Staff members from the House Judiciary Committee met with Justice Department officials Tuesday afternoon and into the night without reaching a compromise. But the committee's chairman, New York congressman Jerrold Nadler, says a vote is still scheduled for Wednesday.

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