The White House formally asserted executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s report Wednesday, President Trump’s first use of the executive authority in the latest confrontation with Congress.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a letter to Congress that Trump had “asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.” Boyd wrote that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s push to hold Barr in contempt had “terminated” their negotiations over what materials lawmakers would be allowed to view from Mueller’s investigation.
“As we have repeatedly explained, the Attorney General could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,” Boyd wrote.
The White House assertion of privilege represents the latest collision between Trump and House Democrats, who have seen their investigations of the president blocked at every turn.
“This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said, later adding: “As a co-equal branch of government, we must have access to the materials that we need to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities in a manner consistent with past precedent.”
The White House move came shortly before the House Judiciary Committee planned to vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt for failing to provide the full Mueller report.
Barr released a redacted, 448-page version of the Mueller report on April 18 that found no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election. The report also identified 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump.