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The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday that federal prosecutors will not prosecute Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary William Ross following a House vote to hold the officials in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.
“The Department of Justice’s long-standing position is that we will not prosecute an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
House - Trump - Cabinet - Members - Contempt
The House had rebuked the Trump Cabinet members by passing a criminal contempt resolution earlier this month, largely along party lines. However, it was widely presumed that the Justice Department would not pursue a criminal referral against the top DOJ official.
The full House vote came after the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed the Commerce and Justice Departments earlier this year for documents relating to since-abandoned efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
Panel - Party - Lines - Month - Barr
The panel voted largely along party lines last month to hold Barr and Ross in contempt for failing to comply with those subpoenas. The agencies told lawmakers shortly before the vote was scheduled to be held that President Trump had asserted executive privilege over the requested documents.
Rosen pointed to Trump's assertion of executive privilege in his letter to Pelosi on Wednesday. And he highlighted DOJ declining to prosecute officials during previous administrations, such as former Attorney General Eric Holder after the House voted to hold him in contempt...
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