Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on May 8 that the Democrats were out to “destroy” Attorney General William Barr.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted on May 8 to recommend the full House of Representatives to vote to find Barr in contempt of Congress. They accuse Barr of failing to comply with a subpoena for the full, non-redacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller. With the resolution adopted in a 24–16 vote, the full House can hold a vote to find Barr in contempt.
Republicans—Jordan among them—say the subpoena forces Barr into a legal Catch-22, since Barr would break federal law by disclosing grand jury material.
“Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his reward?” Jordan asked at the beginning of a hearing on whether to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. “Democrats are going to hold him in contempt.”
Bill Barr is following the law. What’s his reward? Democrats are going to hold him in contempt. pic.twitter.com/slK3cXf3k2
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 8, 2019
“I don’t think today is actually about getting information,” Jordan continued. “I don’t think it’s about getting the unredacted Mueller report. I don’t think last week’s hearing was actually about having staff question the attorney general.
“I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous he’s going to get to the bottom of everything,” Jordan said. “He’s going to find out how and why this investigation started in the first place.”
Republicans accuse Democrats of attempting to discredit Barr because he is reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and looking into allegations that the Obama administration spied on Trump’s campaign.
They also say the Democrats are using the contempt proceedings to score points for the 2020 election by distracting from the Trump administration’s successes on the economic front.
The Redacted Mueller Report
Over the course of 22 months, special counsel Robert Mueller investigated allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department released the special counsel’s report, with redactions, to Congress and the public on April 18.
In the report, Mueller concluded that there was no evidence of collusion by Trump, anyone on his campaign, or any U.S. citizen.
Mueller also did not make a prosecutorial decision about the claim that the president’s alleged actions amounted to obstruction of justice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the arguments Mueller presented and concluded that there is not enough evidence to bring an obstruction case.
House Democrats refused to accept the findings of the Mueller report and have launched hearings and investigations into the obstruction of justice claims that many of them have openly admitted they hoped would lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
They have also criticized Barr for his handling of the release of the report, accusing him of siding with the president, while repeatedly calling for the full unredacted report despite knowing that compliance would result in Barr violating the law.
In response to Democrat demands to see beneath the redactions in the report, Barr offered lawmakers to view a minimally redacted version of the document. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) argued that the rules for viewing the document were too strict.
The Justice Department warned Nadler on May 7 that if the committee moved to a contempt vote, the department would ask the White House to assert executive privilege over the Mueller report.
In the hours leading up to the contempt vote, the White House moved to assert executive privilege over the full special counsel report. Presidents hold the authority to assert executive privilege to withhold information concerning internal executive branch deliberations. The Justice Department is part of the executive branch.
“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,” the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Statement on Executive Privilege pic.twitter.com/6ujCZDnMC0
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 8, 2019
Reasons for Redactions
On April 18 with the release of the redacted Mueller report, Barr said that Trump had declined the opportunity to request and further blacking out of the report.
The Justice Department provided White House attorneys with a copy of the report in accordance with the law, Barr said. The decision to assert executive privilege to redact portions of the document rested with the president and he decided to not request any redactions “in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people,” according to Barr.
The existing redactions in the report were limited to four categories that Barr outlined as grand jury material shielded from disclosure by federal law, intelligence sources and methods the disclosure of which could be harmful to national security, the identities of people who were not ultimately charged with a crime, and the interests of peripheral third parties who were not ultimately prosecuted.
Epoch Times’ reporters Ivan Pentchoukov and Janita Kan contributed to this report