House panel votes to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt

White House tells former counsel McGahn not to comply with subpoena

The Trump White House has defied congressional subpoenas seeking a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Unfortunately, rather than allowing negotiations to continue, you scheduled an unnecessary contempt vote, which you refused to postpone to allow additional time for compromise", Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Soon after the announcement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement accusing Nadler of abusing his power and using the report to "distract" from the president's historically successful agenda. He explains, "Much, if not every aspect, of the privilege has seemingly been waived in light of the cooperation with the special counsel's investigation, as well as with respect to the issuance of the report itself". Democratic sources in Congress said that the special counsel tentatively agreed to testify on May 15. "Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler's unlawful and reckless demands".

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters that for the Trump administration to assert executive privilege now that the Mueller probe has run its course is "laughable, it's frivolous, and it has no basis in reality".

"You cannot have a government in which the president can hide all information about his own wrongdoing and about anything else", Nadler said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said Trump's moves to thwart subpoenas were obstructing oversight by lawmakers and inquiries into Russian interference to boost Trump's candidacy in the 2016 USA election, the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

However, it would send a powerful message to the White House about congressional Democrats' refusal to back down in an increasingly bitter standoff.

Christie said Trump was within his rights to exert executive privilege over the Mueller report and in seeking to prevent his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from testifying.

Regardless, the House seems likely to hold Atty.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disputed McConnell, saying "that's just not a fact - the case is not closed".

On Wednesday, Democrats on the committee successfully pushed through a measure to hold AG Barr in contempt of Congress.

"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, " Boyd wrote in the letter.

"It's finally over", the Republican leader said, in his most significant comments yet on the investigation.

The special counsel did not conclude there was a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The judiciary panel is among several congressional committees investigating Trump and his administration on multiple issues, including the Russian Federation investigation and Trump's personal and business tax returns.

Trump has filed lawsuits meant to block House subpoenas seeking some of his financial and business records, and his administration refused to disclose his subpoenaed tax returns.

But Mr Mueller detailed 10 instances where Mr Trump possibly attempted to impede the investigation.

"Democrats are angry Mueller did not provide a road map for impeachment", said Representative Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

The Justice Department has made a less redacted version available for House and Senate leaders and some committee heads, but the Democrats have said that is not enough and have so far declined to read it.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer later released a statement criticizing the Senate's top Republican over his statement.

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