Nadler presses Barr over Trump using emergency powers during pandemic

Nadler presses Barr over Trump using emergency powers during pandemic
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pressed Attorney General William BarrBill BarrOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban DOJ to resume executions next week for first time in 15 years Tim Scott says he's talking with House Democrats about reviving police reform bill MORE about emergency powers President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE has said he could use during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent to Barr on Friday, Nadler cited claims Trump has made about unspecific powers he could choose to enact to combat the virus and requested specific details over the actions the White House could take.

“In recent days and weeks, President Trump has repeatedly suggested he may use unspecified emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Nadler. “When challenged about his claims, President Trump said his Administration would ‘write up papers’ or a ‘legal brief’ justifying these positions.”

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Barr noted that any action Trump would take would likely have to be reviewed by the Justice Department, though he has still not specified what he intends to do.

“While it remains unclear what the President is referring to when he describes authorities ‘that people don’t even know about,’ his remarks suggest that his Administration has produced or may soon produce documents purporting to support the use of extraordinary legal authorities in response to the pandemic," Barr wrote. "Such documents would likely undergo review by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)."

The letter comes as Trump cites unspecified powers, claiming in recent days that he has “the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about” and “very strong emergency powers.”

The president raised eyebrows earlier this month after he said he has total authority to reopen the economy and lift stay-at-home orders, seemingly suggesting he could override the decisions of governors across the country before backtracking days later. 

Nadler requested Barr shed light on Trump’s “hidden” emergency powers by briefing his panel and providing any Justice Department documents he has regarding the president’s “potential use of emergency authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”