Nadler accuses Trump of 'direct assault on the constitutional order' in letter to DOJ

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPoll: Majority wants Trump out, but not through impeachment Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeds charge five in international ID theft ring targeting military members, veterans The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report MORE on Friday equating President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE’s decision to assert executive privilege over special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE’s unredacted report and underlying evidence as a “direct assault” on the Constitution.

“The President’s pronouncement amounts to a direct assault on the constitutional order and on Congress’s constitutional oversight and legislative interest with regard to the President and his Administration,” wrote Nadler, whose committee voted Wednesday to find Barr in contempt of Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nadler wrote that the Judiciary panel is willing to continue engaging with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reach an agreement on the Mueller materials for which the committee has issued a subpoena, expressing disappointment at the Justice Department’s “precipitous end to our active accommodation discussions.”

“Notwithstanding the President’s admitted intent to block all congressional subpoenas, the Committee remains prepared to meet with the Department to ascertain if an accommodation can be reached that is consistent with the prerogatives of the Committee and the Department,” Nadler wrote. “My staff is ready, willing and able to meet with your staff in an effort to achieve a suitable compromise.”

Nadler’s letter came two days after the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend Barr be held in contempt for not complying with a congressional subpoena for Mueller’s report and evidence after in-person negotiations with DOJ failed to resolve an impasse. The Justice Department has said that complying with the subpoena would amount to violating the law and would compromise ongoing investigations.

On a recommendation from Barr, Trump asserted executive privilege over Mueller’s unredacted report and underlying evidence on Wednesday ahead of the contempt vote. The Justice Department argued in a letter to Nadler that day that the committee had forced the administration’s hand.

“As we have repeatedly explained, the attorney general could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd. “Accordingly, this is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.”

House Democrats have demanded access to Mueller’s full report, a redacted version of which Barr released publicly on April 18. Democrats have also criticized Barr for his handling of the report, accusing him of bias in his memo detailing Mueller’s conclusions.

Barr has allowed the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees as well as Gang of Eight intelligence lawmakers to review a less-redacted version of the report in a secure room, provided they don’t discuss it. Barr has also declined to join Democrats in petitioning for the release of grand jury material from the report, which is subject to secrecy rules absent a court order.

At a meeting Tuesday, DOJ said it would allow more staffers to view the report and allow lawmakers who review it to talk about it amongst themselves and keep their notes on it. The Judiciary Committee issued a counteroffer the same day, asking that all members of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees be able to immediately review the less-redacted version.

Nadler also noted in his letter that the committee “agreed to postpone the contempt resolution markup if the Department simply agreed to discuss producing only the underlying evidence and materials referenced in the report.”

It is unclear whether the Justice Department will be open to continuing discussions with the committee following Wednesday’s contempt resolution vote.

The DOJ did not immediately return a request for comment on Nadler’s latest letter.

Nadler’s letter noted that “the full House has not yet taken action on this matter.”

Democratic House leaders have signaled they want to move the resolution to the floor for a vote by the full chamber soon.