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US Attorney General Barr held in contempt by committee over Mueller report

The move escalates tensions between Democrats and President Donald Trump.

XINHUA PHOTOS OF THE DAY US Attorney General William Barr Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE HOUSE JUDICIARY Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

The move escalates the legal battle with the Trump administration over access to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The committee voted 24-16 to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats’ demands for the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence.

Ahead of the vote, President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over those materials and reserved the right to block them.

The contempt resolution against Barr now moves to the full House. If it is approved, it would trigger a criminal referral to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, which would decide whether to prosecute.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the panel had to act because Trump’s stonewalling is creating a “constitutional crisis.”

Nadler had given Barr until 9am on Monday to provide an un-redacted version of the report and then proposed to hold Barr in contempt after the Justice Department declined to provide the committee with it. 

Democrats have said they need to see the full report, including underlying materials like interview transcripts, to conduct a complete review of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.

Escalated tensions

Nadler’s move has escalated tensions between the Democrat-led House and President Donald Trump’s administration over Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Mueller’s report ultimately found no criminal collusion by Trump’s 2016 campaign with Russia, and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice.

The report, however, concludes that “if we had confidence a thorough investigations of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

For two years, the White House has denied any wrongdoing or collusion with Russia in 2016′s Presidential Election.

Meanwhile, Trump’s turnabout on whether Mueller should appear before Congress has sparked criticism from Democratic lawmakers who are eager to question the author of the report on Russia’s election interference.

Trump had previously said he would leave the question of Robert Mueller testifying to Attorney General Barr. The attorney general has said he has no objection to Mueller testifying.

Not only has Trump said that Mueller’s report didn’t reveal collusion and that there was no obstruction, he asserted: “Bob Mueller should not testify.”

With reporting from © – AFP 2019

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