Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., held a committee vote Wednesday to move forward with his plan to cite Attorney General William Barr with contempt even as the White House put the contested Mueller report under executive privilege.
And Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, a Republican from Georgia, charge that their entire effort is nothing but politics because top Democrats already have access to some 99.9 percent of the report and have refused to go read it.
That 0.1 percent? It appears to be mostly grand jury material and information that could derail ongoing investigations, which are illegal for Barr to release short of a court order.
“This tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Washington today,” Kelsey Bolar of the Heritage Foundation told Fox News.
DailyMail.com reported that even as committee members were voting along party lines, 22-12, Wednesday to advance a demand that Barr be cited with contempt – it still has to go through several votes – President Trump put the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s document under executive privilege.
The White House said, “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.”
Barr, who was not even required to provide his report to Congress, voluntarily gave lawmakers everything except a small amount of material redacted for grand jury and other confidentiality reasons.
Democrats cite in their contempt citation his decision to withhold grand material. They also claim the right to cite him for his decision last week, after he volunteered to answer their questions, to change his mind when he discovered Democrats to use their hired lawyers to question him.
Collins called out the Democratic majority for its “cynical, mean-spirited, counterproductive and irresponsible step.”
He told Nadler, “We have a crisis on the southern border. China is stealing our intellectual property. Yet here we are, wasting another valuable week of the legislative calendar on your war against the administration.”
He argued to Democrats that Barr has gone “above and beyond what the regulations require by transmitting the full report to Congress, with very limited redactions.”
And he noted that Barr has offered to let Nadler and other leaders view a copy of the report that is 99.9 percent complete and they have refused.
He said the evidence suggests that Democrats are intent on their game plan to “sully” Barr.
“First, Democrats are angry the special counsel’s report did not produce the material or conclusions they expected to pave their path to impeaching the president. I feel compelled to remind everyone the report found that, despite offers to do so, no one from the Trump campaign knowingly conspired with the Russian government. You can’t help but notice the phrase ‘Russian collusion’ has vanished from Democrat talking points and left a void in their narrative,” Collins said in remarks prepared for the meeting.
“Second, Democrats are afraid of what the attorney general will find when he completes his ongoing review of FISA abuses at the Justice Department, including how the Russia investigation began. Multiple news reports have suggested those conclusions could be explosive, could end careers and could even lead to criminal prosecution. Rather than face the music, Democrats have resolved to neutralize Bill Barr by attacking his integrity and distinguished career,” Collins said.
He said the Democrats “have no plans, no purpose and no viable legislative agenda beyond attacking this administration.”
He “implored” Nadler to “see reason.”
But the Democrat chairman went ahead with his plans anyway.
The Justice Department has explained to Nadler and others that the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prevent the release of grand jury information.
The Washington Examiner noted House citations of contempt of Congress are “unlikely to result in punishment.”
“Both parties have voted to hold high-ranking, executive branch officials in contempt over the past two decades for refusing to testify or turn over subpoenaed material, among them President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder,” the report said. “But little has come of criminal contempt votes, and none of the top officials lawmakers targeted were prosecuted.”
And the Congressional Research Service noted, “Efforts to punish an executive branch official for non-compliance with a subpoena through criminal contempt will likely prove unavailing in many, if not most, circumstances.”
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “The Democrat Party is literally losing its mind here, folks. That’s what you’re watching. That is what we are watching take place here. … This is what the slow creep of insanity looks like. And if it were happening to a family member of yours, you would be in a state of panic right now and you would be seeking expert advice on what to do about it.”
He said it was Congress itself that decided grand jury material could not be released, and, despite that, there’s been no effort to change that while Democrats demand that material from Barr.
“So what this boils down to is, and just synthesizing this down to its base element, this is not about the Mueller report. This is not about what they think is in it that they don’t know. It’s not about the fact that they think key evidence regarding collusion or obstruction is being withheld from them. It’s not about that at all.
“This is about discrediting the attorney general as he begins his investigation into the investigation into how this all happened. The investigation into the Obama DOJ, the investigation into James Comey, the investigation into the FISA court, the FISA warrant process, the investigation into the Steele dossier and its origins, which is Hillary Clinton, the DNC. That investigation, which Barr has already begun and which the current FBI director Christopher Wray has acknowledged he’s taking part in, this is all an attempt to discredit Barr.”