President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege for the first time on Wednesday, as outlined in a letter from the Department of Justice. Trump asserted this privilege over the unredacted Mueller report and its underlying evidence, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, according to The Hill. With this act, Trump attempts to essentially hide the redacted portions of the Mueller Report from Congress using executive secrecy powers at a time when House Democrats are attempting to investigate him for obstruction of justice.
This action follows Boyd’s letter on Tuesday to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), threatening the use of executive privilege if the committee did not delay its vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt. Barr failed to comply with the committee’s subpoena to provide the unredacted report and related materials. Thus, the House Judiciary Committee was teed up on Wednesday to vote on whether to hold him in contempt.
While the committee staff and the DOJ had met on Capitol Hill Tuesday to attempt to negotiate, neither party was satisfied with the other’s offerings. The Democrats rejected an opportunity to review a less-redacted version of the report, as only a dozen people would be allowed to see it, and even then they could not discuss the materials afterward.
Boyd wrote to Nadler on Wednesday, per The Hill, “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.”
“Accordingly, this is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” he added.
On Tuesday, in response to the DOJ’s initial threat of executive privilege, Nadler wrote:
... [T]his kind of obstruction is dangerous. The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties. In the coming days, I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless Administration. The Committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover-up.
Nadler argued that the White House had already waived executive privilege in this case, and thus the DOJ’s reasons for asserting it were “without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.”
Regarding the developments Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, “Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the attorney general’s request, the president has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege.”