Lawmakers, Pundits Respond To Claims Of Executive Privilege
The White House on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the full Mueller report, claiming that Congress had no right to access the redacted portions of the document in the administration’s latest attempts to keep those sections private.
The House Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed the Trump administration’s Justice Department, demanding that redacted materials be made available to members of the committee. On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to tell Congress the White House was not going to turn them over.
“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” Boyd wrote in his letter to the committee, the New York Times reported.
Reaction on social media to the announcement was resoundingly skeptical, especially from Democratic lawmakers and other commentators.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) suggested that previous claims of exoneration by Trump were starting to fall apart.
Hmm. Could it be that the “totally exonerated” President has something to hide? ? https://t.co/EpNG3Zd2qi
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) May 8, 2019
Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), who has suggested administration officials could face the threat of contempt of Congress (and with that, the possibility of spending time in jail) if they continued to stonewall subpoenas, agreed with Gallego’s point.
Curious thing here. President claiming executive privilege to try to prevent the American people from seeing the entire document that he claims “completely exonerated” him. Wonder why?
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) May 8, 2019
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement while serving in his Congressional post that the assertion of executive privilege was a concerning wrinkle in the administration’s refusal to cooperate.
“This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler explained.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on executive privilege: "This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally mandated duties."
Via CSPAN pic.twitter.com/fVS67EUWai
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 8, 2019
And Ted Deutch (D-Arizona) stated clearly that the “threat of a blanket privilege claim is empty of any credibility, any merit,” citing specifically a passage from the decision in the landmark Supreme Court case U.S. v. Nixon, which dismissed the notion that such claims to privilege can hurt the balance of the three branches of government.
"Once executive privilege is asserted, coequal branches of the Government are set on a collision course.” SCOTUS, U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
The Attorney General’s threat of a blanket privilege claim is empty of any credibility, any merit, and certainly any legal or factual support.
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) May 8, 2019
Political commentators also stepped in to voice their disapproval of the announcement from the White House on Wednesday. Susan Hennessey, the Executive Director of Lawfare, wrote that Trump asserting executive privilege over “everything” in the Mueller report doesn’t make any sense to her in a legal way.
“It’s just not how any of this works. This is the Michael Scott presidency,” Hennessey wrote, providing a GIF image of the popular television character from “The Office” in her tweet.
Trump's "formal assertion of executive privilege" over … everything(?) makes absolutely no sense as a legal matter. It's just not how any of this works. This is the Michael Scott presidency. pic.twitter.com/UxVrXuCiS1
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) May 8, 2019
Satirical Twitter user Tea Pain also chimed in on the issue. “Trump has exerted executive privilege over the Mueller Report, so if we talk about it we’ll be in ‘Contempt of Trump,'” he wrote.
Trump has exerted executive privilege over the Mueller Report, so if we talk about it we'll be in "Contempt of Trump."https://t.co/p5RpkqJKSi
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) May 8, 2019
If the administration continues to assert executive privilege against releasing the full report to Congress, or if it continues to stonewall on other matters (including allowing present and past members of the Trump White House to testify before House committees), it’s likely that these matters will find themselves before the federal courts. The courts, in turn, may find themselves beholden to precedents set in the past, limiting what can or cannot be deemed by the White House issues of executive privilege.