In a move that came as no surprise, the Democratic controlled House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for his refusal to hand over an unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
In a vote that followed party lines, the panel chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) made a formal recommendation to the lower chamber which would hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with the committee's congressional subpoena.
The committee's 24-16 vote on contempt for Barr was along party lines and came after hours of debate. House leaders will now decide whether to take up the contempt citation on the House floor for a final vote. If approved, the measure would be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia -- who could choose not to act. House Democrats could also pursue a lawsuit.
“We did not relish doing this, but we have no choice,” Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said after the vote, adding, "We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it." -Fox News
In order to prevent the unredacted version of the Mueller report to fall into the hands of a very leaky Congress, President Trump asserted executive privilege over the entire report and its underlying evidence on Wednesday, after Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd recommended the action Thursday night.
"We are disappointed that you have rejected the Department of Justice’s request to delay the vote of the Committee on the Judiciary on a contempt finding against the Attorney General this morning," wrote Boyd. "Accordingly, this is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials."
Following Wednesday's contempt vote, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec accused Nadler of "inappropriate political theatrics," adding "“Unfortunately, rather than allowing negotiations to continue, Chairman Nadler short-circuited these efforts by proceeding with a politically motivated and unnecessary contempt vote, which he refused to postpone to allow additional time to explore discussion and compromise."
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins - the top Republican on the committee - said that House Judiciary Democrats had taken a "cynical, mean-spirited, counterproductive and irresponsible step."
"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," said Collins. "... They are angry our nation’s chief law enforcement officer and his deputy had the audacity to decide the evidence didn’t support charges for obstructing an investigation into something the president didn’t do."