At the suggestion of Attorney General William Barr, Trump has invoked executive privilege to prevent Congress from enforcing a demand that Barr give them the full Mueller report, including supporting evidence. It’s the latest example of Trump defying not just Congress but the very idea of oversight.
President Trump formally asserted executive privilege over special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report Wednesday, his first use of the executive authority in the escalating confrontation with Congress.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a letter to Congress that Trump had “asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.” Boyd wrote that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s push to hold Barr in contempt had “terminated” their negotiations over what materials lawmakers would be allowed to view from Mueller’s investigation.“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,” Boyd wrote.
This will lead to yet another court fight over executive vs. legislative authority and oversight, but it’s one that Trump may very well win. This is a far closer case than the one that will likely arise over Barr’s refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Congress has much stronger standing in that case. There is a difference between forcing him to testify and forcing him to turn over information that includes grand jury testimony, which is generally forbidden (though there are exceptions, the primary one being if a judge orders that it be released.