WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold U.S. Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after the Justice Department rejected House Democrats’ demands for the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and other documents.
The vote against Barr will head to the full House of Representatives for a vote. If the House passes the resolution, a criminal referral will be sent to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump enacted executive privilege to keep the redacted portions of the Mueller report from Congress.
Executive privilege is the president's power to keep information from the courts, Congress and the public to protect the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process.
The Justice Department had rejected House Democrats’ demands for the release of the full Mueller report, but allowed a handful of congressional leaders to see a less redacted version.
Barr released a heavily redacted version of the report to the public in April.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had to assert privilege because of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler's "blatant abuse of power” regarding the demands over the full report.
Talks between the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department failed to reach an agreement Tuesday on releasing more of the report to a broader group of lawmakers on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
Ahead of Wednesday’s committee hearing, Rep. Nadler said Trump’s assertion of the executive privilege over the report is a clear escalation of his administration’s “blanket defiance” against Congress.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.