Bill Barr and the Department of Justice just issued a warning to Jerry Nadler about Congressional overreach. DOJ has threatened to use it’s “Trump” card. It is broad and powerful and covers much ground, and Trump can use his executive privilege anytime he wants.
If the President invokes this clause it is checkmate for Nadler and the Dems. The Supreme Court may eventually narrow the scope of executive privilege, but they will uphold the concept to a large degree.
On Tuesday, The Hill reported that The Department of Justice (DOJ) threatened to ask the President to invoke executive privilege over materials lawmakers have subpoenaed on the 2020 census citizenship question.
In a letter sent to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that the administration should take that step if the committee passes a vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.
Boyd wrote that in “the face of this threatened contempt vote, the Attorney General is now compelled to request that the president invoke executive privilege” over the materials the panel had subpoenaed from the DOJ and the Commerce Department.
“This request is not itself an assertion of executive privilege,” Stephen Boyd wrote in the letter.
If the committee goes forward with the vote as scheduled this Wednesday, “the Department will be obliged to advise that the President assert executive privilege with respect to certain of the subpoenaed documents, and to make a protective assertion of executive privilege over the remainder of the documents, which undoubtedly include material covered by executive privilege, while the Department continues to review them.”
Boyd also stated that the department remains “open to further discussions with the committee, and we hope that the committee does not make it necessary for the president to take these steps.”
He asked Cummings to reply to the letter by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“Both Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr are refusing to comply with duly authorized subpoenas from Congress. Because they are in contempt of Congress, on Wednesday, the Committee will vote to move forward to enforce our bipartisan subpoenas,” Cummings said in a statement on Monday, announcing the votes.
Both the DOJ and the Commerce Department have pushed back against Cummings’s claims, pointing to other materials the agencies have given to the committee and testimony that officials have provided.
“Rather than seriously engage in an accommodation process, the committee has now scheduled a vote to recommend that the attorney general be held in contempt for his purported failure to comply with the committee’s subpoena,” Boyd wrote in the letter.
He also slammed part of the contempt resolution released by Cummings, which cites AG Barr for ordering John Gore, a top official in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to defy a congressional subpoena for Gore’s testimony.
The DOJ had wanted a department attorney to be in the room with Gore during the deposition, as he had during similar committee interviews in the past, but committee rules block counsel from departments under investigation to be present during those depositions.
On Monday, Ross made a statement and claimed that his department has provided other documents to Congress on the census citizenship question, and noted that other Commerce officials have agreed to interview with the Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The committee has demonstrated its contempt for the Constitution by its chronic refusal to engage in the constitutionally-mandated accommodation process, which is far more serious than the empty stunt the committee has planned for Wednesday,” Ross said.