Posts tagged with "AG William Barr"

Trump claims executive privilege over full Mueller report; House Judiciary votes to hold Barr in contempt

May 9, 2019

At the instigation of the Justice Department on the evening of May 7, President Donald Trump claimed executive privilege over the full Mueller report.

The maneuver represented a last-ditch effort to shield hidden portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the supporting evidence he collected, from Congress and the American people.

“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report but the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.

The assertion came as the House Judiciary Committee was set to vote on Wednesday, May 8, on whether the House of Representatives should hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same materials, The New York Times reported.

In response, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) commented in a formal release, “Tonight, in the middle of good faith negotiations with the attorney general, the [DoJ] 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,” Nadler noted. “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.”

He said that the move could have alarming and risky repercussions, remarking, “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,” Nadler continued, “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.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a blistering statement: “The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the President’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” she wrote, according to The Times.

She added: “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.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. on May 8, after negotiations had once again tanked, Nadler said before the committee vote, “This is information we are legally entitled to receive and we are Constitutionally obligated to review .… The Trump administration has taken obstruction of Congress to new heights.”

The committee voted along partisan lines to hold Barr in contempt of Congress  (24 Democrats versus 16 Republicans). The contempt citation now will go before the full House chamber for a vote, where Democrats hold a 38-seat majority. The timing of that vote will be up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California),

Research contact: @HouseJudiciary

Schiff says Barr misled the American public and ‘should step down’

May 2, 2019

The attorney general of the United States is a liar and he should resign. So said the Chairman Adam Schiff  (D-California) of the House Intelligence Committee on May 1, following the release to The Washington Post of a March 25 letter written by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In that correspondence, the Russia investigator voiced grave concerns about the nature of the four-page summary of his team’s report written by AG William Barr and released the day before.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote in the letter, which he also saved to his files for posterity.

“We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25,” Mueller continued, noting, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The special counsel went on to urge the attorney general to distribute the executive summaries of the report prepared in advance by his team. “Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would anser congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation,” he said.

Mueller also followed up his correspondence with a call to Barr, during which he expressed similar concerns.

However, not only did Barr refuse to release the executive summaries in a “piecemeal” fashion, but, according to a May 1 report by the Post, “he disclaimed knowledge of the thinking of Special Counsel Robert Mueller” during two separate, back-to-back hearings on April 9 and April 10.

“No, I don’t,” Barr said, when asked by Representative Charlie Crist (D-Florida) whether he knew what was behind reports that members of Mueller’s team were frustrated by the attorney general’s summary of their top-level conclusions.

“I don’t know,” he said the next day, when asked by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) whether Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice.

Now, Schiff has a case against AG Barr:  “I think his statement is deliberately false and misleading, and yes, most people would consider that to be a lie,” Schiff said on CBS This Morning, as reported by The Hill.

“Look, there’s no sugar- coating this, I think he should step down,” Schiff said. “It’s hard, I think, for the country to have confidence in the top law enforcement official in the country if he’s asked a direct question as he was and he gives a directly false answer, so this is serious business.”

“After two years and work and investigation implicating the president of the United States, for the attorney general to mislead the public for an entire month before releasing that report is inexcusable.” 

Schiff is the highest-ranking Democrat on Capitol Hill so far to call for Barr to step down. He follows Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s call for Barr to resign.

Tuesday’s revelation upped the ante for Barr’s appearance Wednesday morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and led to a cavalcade of criticism from House and Senate Democrats, The Hill reported.

“The Special Counsel’s concerns reflect our own. The Attorney General should not have taken it upon himself to describe the Special Counsel’s findings in a light more favorable to the President. It was only a matter of time before the facts caught up to him,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Tuesday, demanding that Barr hand over Mueller’s letter to Congress by 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to Politico, in a separate statement on Wednesday, on CNN claimed Barr’s statements might be considered perjury “for an ordinary citizen.”

“It’s worse when it comes from the attorney general of the United States because it means the public cannot have confidence in what he says,” Schiff said. “It means that we cannot have confidence in how he administers justice.”

And in a separate tweet, Schiff wrote, “No one can place any reliance on what Barr says. We need to hear from Mueller himself.”

Research contact: @RepAdamSchiff

Nadler pulls rank on Barr on terms of testimony

April 30, 2019

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) has cautioned Attorney General William Barr—who has more than proven himself to be a Trump acolyte during his first six weeks in office—not to try to dictate the terms of his testimony on the Russia investigation on May 2.

“The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period,” Nadler told CNN on Sunday.

Barr is scheduled to testify to the committee on Thursday about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on the probe—which he had thoroughly redacted before releasing it to a limited number of Congressional leaders earlier this month.

He also is expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, according to a report by Politico.

Nadler wants to allow each committee member a five-minute round of questioning. A key point of contention has arisen over Nadler’s wanting to allow for another round of questioning of 30 minutes for each party’s committee counsels, the political news outlet said. The chairman also proposed that the panel go into closed session to discuss the redacted sections of the report.

Barr has rejected both proposals, according to CNN, which cited an unidentified committee source.

Representative Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Politico that Nadler’s proposed structure for the hearing was “not unprecedented.”

“It is not up to Attorney General Barr to tell our committee how to operate, and will I be puzzled if he actually decides not to show,” Dean said Sunday on CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield.

If Barr doesn’t appear on Thursday, Dean said, the committee is ready to “fully use our subpoena power.”

“The chairman has subpoena power, and we’ll have to go to a court of law and either hold him in contempt or have him come in, but I hope that cooler heads prevail,” Dean said.

Nadler has subpoenaed the Justice Department to provide an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, along with its underlying grand jury evidence and testimony, by May 1. He also sent a letter to Mueller asking the special counsel to testify before the Judiciary Committee by May 23.

Research contact: @politico

Dems deride Barr’s obstruction of justice conclusion; demand full Mueller report

March 26, 2019

When President Donald Trump’s personally selected and nominated attorney general, William Barr, quickly decided this past weekend that there had been no obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation, Democrats had their doubts.

After all, before his nomination, Barr had deeply damaged his credibility by sending an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and the White House on June 8 of last year, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Muellershould not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.”

Barr noted at that time, “I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one. It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly zealous prosecutors.”

Did Robert Mueller get that message before he decided to demur? And who can blame Democrats for wondering whether—when Barr said the special counsel had not reached a conclusion on obstruction of justice—he was merely grabbing the opportunity that he had hoped to take advantage of all along?

Indeed, Democrats accused Barr of putting his own finding on Mueller’s report, noting that Mueller himself did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, even if he did not explicitly state that Trump had committed obstruction, The Hill reported. 

“A sanitized summary from Trump’s handpicked bodyguard is not acceptable,” said Representative Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey). “Barr has his finger on the scale to protect Trump. The full report should be released immediately.”

From day one, Trump obstructed this investigation and refused to cooperate. Several of his top aides have been convicted in court. If Trump’s AG won’t hold him accountable for his crimes, it’s up to Congress to investigate,” Pascrell continued, adding that “the ball is now squarely in our court.”

Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Trump in 2020—including Senators Cory Booker (New Jersey)Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)Kamala Harris (California), and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)—also called for the full report to be released, The Hill said.

“The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately—not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official,” Booker tweeted.

In her call for the full report, Warren cited a House measure earlier this month in which lawmakers unanimously voted for the special counsel’s entire report to be made public.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said his panel would be calling on Barr to testify, the news outlet reported.

“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision-making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before House Judiciary in the near future,” he said.

Trump and the White House seized on Barr’s letter summarizing Mueller’s report as a vindication. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Trump tweeted on March 24 at 4:42 p.m.

Research contact: @the hill