The Democrats Go To War Against William Barr

White House tells former counsel McGahn not to comply with subpoena

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Donald Trump and his administration of "every day. advertising their obstruction of justice by ignoring subpoenas" issued by opposition Democratic lawmakers for oversight of him, the White House and government agencies.

The legal battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration entered a new phase with the Judiciary Committee voting to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing a fuller version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Pelosi continued to hold the line on impeachment, saying that the committees are investigating the facts and the House will follow those wherever they lead.

The president's decision was weeks in the making, the next inevitable escalation between the White House and Congress over a number of probes.

In a press conference after the vote, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) further framed the consequential nature of this moment.

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"Right now, all systems go for the contempt hearing", said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat.

Talks with the Justice Department broke down over the committee's subpoena for an unredacted version of the report.

On April 22, Nadler delivered a subpoena to McGahn requesting that he deliver a series of documents to the committee by May 7 at 10 a.m. local time, and testify before the committee on May 21.

One option is holding McGahn in contempt of Congress - then taking him to civil court to try to convince a judge to order him to comply with their investigations. Instead Burck sent Nadler a letter, which explained that the White House does not want McGahn to cooperate. That's likely what the White House is banking on. Without all of that, the committee asserts, it can not fulfill its constitutionally mandated oversight role. "The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under long-standing constitutional principles, because they implicate significant executive branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege".

The inter-branch conflict has centered on the committees in the House - which is controlled by the Democrats - and their requests for information from the administration. By rebuffing Congress, she said, the White House was essentially committing the kind of obstruction of justice Mueller probed in his report. Democratic House leaders could also file a lawsuit, though the case could take months or even years to resolve. "I hope Chairman Nadler accepts this reasonable offer rather than continuing to reject good faith offers to negotiate".

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McGahn emerged as a star witness in the Mueller report, a senior confidante who documented in real-time Trump's rage against the Russian Federation investigation and efforts to shut it down.

Don McGahn's refusal to provide the documents to the House Judiciary Committee came at the instruction of the White House, which suggested the documents could be subject to executive privilege. They argued the White House can not waive privilege for some circumstances but not in others.

Nadler also says that the documents he's seeking are not covered by executive privilege because they were turned over to attorneys outside the White House.

The decision to assert executive privilege to redact portions of the document rested with the president and he chose to not request any redactions "in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people", according to Barr.

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