By Nicholas Fandos
New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege Wednesday in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and the evidence he collected from Congress.
The assertion, Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee was expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same material.
“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen E. Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report but also the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.
Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report voluntarily last month. But Democrats say that is not good enough, and they have accused the attorney general of stonewalling a legitimate request for material they need to carry out an investigation into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee prepared to vote Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt, despite a threat issued late Tuesday from the Justice Department that it would ask the president to invoke executive privilege over the materials the Democrats are demanding.
Committee Democrats did not take kindly to the department’s threat.
“In the coming days, I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless administration,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee’s chairman, said late Tuesday. “The committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover-up.”