WASHINGTON — President Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report and the evidence he collected from Congress.
The assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William P. 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 the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.
Mr. 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 Mr. Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee prepared to vote Wednesday morning to hold Mr. Barr in contempt, despite a threat issued late Tuesday night 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,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, said late Tuesday. “The committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover-up.”
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, released a blistering statement:
“The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the President’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” she wrote.
She added: “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.”