Jerrold Nadler rejects DOJ offer, moving forward with contempt vote against AG William Barr
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday he has rejected an offer from the Justice Department to allow more lawmakers to view a less-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and will now move forward with a contempt vote against Attorney General William P. Barr.
Mr. Nadler’s statements come after Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to him late Tuesday night threatening to invoke executive privilege over all of the documents the Judiciary Committee has requested.
“In the face of the Committee’s threatened contempt vote, the Attorney General will be compelled to request that the President invoke executive privilege with respect to the materials subject to the subpoena,” Mr. Boyd wrote in the letter.
Speaking on CNN Wednesday morning, Mr. Nadler said the letter leaves him with no choice but to push forward with the contempt vote against Mr. Barr.
“Attorney General Barr has gone from being a personal attorney to the president instead of being the attorney general and has gone a step further turning the Department of Justice into an agency allowing the president to defy the law and act as monarch,” Mr. Nadler said.
At issue is Democrats’ demand for an unredacted version of Mr. Mueller’s final conclusions and their underlying evidence. The Justice Department says it can’t release the full report because it has confidential grand jury information, which must remain shielded under federal law.
Mr. Barr has made a less-redacted version available to select lawmakers, but Mr. Nadler says that is not good enough.
Mr. Nadler also said the president cannot invoke executive privilege because he already made the documents available to Mr. Mueller’s team.
“They have no right to do that because there is no executive privilege here, and any executive privilege was waived when they gave that information to Mueller,” he said.
Negotiations stalled Tuesday despite a very long day of meetings between committee staff and Justice Department officials on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Nadler said the Justice Department was willing to expand lawmaker access to selected unreacted information. He said the offer was a nonstarter.
“They were willing to have 12 members of Congress see certain unreacted information, and we insisted all members of the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee should see that information,” he said.
The Justice Department also offered to increase the number of staff members who can review a “minimally redacted report,” and discuss it freely among themselves; and also members to take and retain their notes following the review,” Mr. Boyd wrote.
Democrats counteroffered by asking Mr. Barr to work with them by going to court together to obtain grand jury material, which the attorney general has insisted he will not give to Congress.
Mr. Nadler said the lack of movement by the Justice Department made it “twice as necessary” to proceed with the contempt vote.