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House Panel Moves Toward Barr Contempt Citation After Privilege Invoked

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The House Judiciary chairman said Wednesday the Trump administration’s refusal to provide special counsel Robert Mueller’s full Russia report to Congress presents a “constitutional crisis,” leaving the panel no choice but to move forward with a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr, the Associated Press reports.

The Justice Department all but assured the contempt vote Tuesday night by informing the Judiciary Committee that it would ask President Trump to assert executive privilege over underlying evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, The Washington Post reported.

In a late-night letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), assistant attorney general Stephen E. Boyd argued that the Justice Department had tried to accommodate Democrats’ demands for the release of the full Mueller report, which the Judiciary panel subpoenaed for its investigation into the president.

But Boyd said that Democrats — who made a counteroffer to the Justice Department in a last-ditch negotiation session to stave off a scheduled contempt vote for Barr Wednesday morning – “has responded to our accommodation efforts by escalating its unreasonable demands.”

Nadler appeared to support mounting calls to move towards impeachment by accusing President Trump of  “blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,”  CNN reports.

“In the coming days, 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,” he said in a statement.

In a news analysis, New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak wrote that the “all-out war” President Trump has declared on Democrats’ inquiries “could create a constitutional crisis — an impasse that the allocation of interlocking powers and responsibilities by the framers cannot solve.” John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former official in the George W. Bush administration, said the president’s approach was novel and dangerous.

“The thing that’s unusual is the blanket refusal,” Yoo said. “It would be extraordinary if the president actually were to try to stop all congressional testimony on subpoenaed issues. That would actually be unprecedented if it were a complete ban.”

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