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Published: Wednesday, May 08, 2019 @ 12:46 PM
— The struggle over evidence from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections escalated dramatically on Wednesday, as the White House announced it would assert executive privilege to block the release of the full Mueller report, while a House committee voted to find the Attorney General in contempt of Congress for not turning over the materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
"Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler's unlawful and reckless demands," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a written statement.
"The Trump Administration has taken obstruction of Congress to new heights," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, as Democrats pressed for not only the unredacted Mueller Report, but the supporting documents from the investigation as well.
Nadler's comments came as his panel exchanged hours of verbal barbs in a pointed committee debate over a contempt citation for Attorney General William Barr, as Republicans echoed the President's attacks on the Russia investigation, which he labeled as "TREASONOUS HOAX" in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
Statement on Executive Privilege pic.twitter.com/6ujCZDnMC0— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 8, 2019
.@RepJerryNadler on executive privilege: "This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally mandated duties." pic.twitter.com/GuqC1RygPo— CSPAN (@cspan) May 8, 2019
“Is this what it looks like when you have nothing to hide?” tweeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The panel voted 24-16 along party lines to send a contempt resolution to the full House.
The meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday quickly turned into a tale of two parties - Republicans talked mainly about their desire to investigate the investigators, and how the Russia investigation began, while Democrats said there was no reason the White House should block access to the details of what the Mueller probe uncovered.
House Judiciary Committee just voted to hold AG Barr in contempt for his refusal to provide Congress the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. This should send an important message that no one is above the law - and I will vote for it on the floor. #ReleaseTheReport— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) May 8, 2019
DOJ spox Kerri Kupec: "It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics...No one, including Chairman Nadler and his Committee, will force the Department of Justice to break the law.”— Eric Tucker (@etuckerAP) May 8, 2019
"Bill Barr is going to dig into the origins of the bogus Russian collusion allegation," Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), who accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of conspiring with Russia during the 2016 elections.
"This is all about impeaching the President," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). "The Democrats need to get over it."
"The Attorney General has stonewalled," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). "This is all part of a cover up."
"Executive privilege is not a cloak of secrecy," said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). "We're just asking for the truth."
“You can't exert executive privilege after the fact,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
The battle over contempt - and executive privilege on the Mueller Report - came amid uncertainty over whether there would be testimony of any kind from both former White House Counsel Don McGahn, or the man in charge of the investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.