06:35 GMT09 August 2020
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    Members of the US House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to hold US Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. The contempt resolution now moves to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

    The vote marks the first time a Trump administration official has been punished for defying a congressional subpoena. The official vote tally stands at 24 to 16.

    "No person — and certainly not the top law enforcement officer in the country — can be permitted to flout the will of Congress and to defy a valid subpoena," said the committee's chair, Jerry Nadler (D-NY). "It is our constitutional duty to respond."

    Following the vote, Nadler warned "we are now in a constitutional crisis."

    Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent, told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Wednesday that the contempt vote was the result of Democrats' desire to keep the Russiagate hysterics alive.

    ​"I think the real reason for this contempt is simply because the Democrats will not give up on Russiagate," Rowley told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

    "And even more so now that they realize Barr is going to begin [an] investigation of the Democratic participation — the DNC participation — in doing exactly the same things in trying to manipulate as they accuse the Republicans of."

    "[American lawyer Alan] Dershowitz always said that the best defense is an offense. I think the Democrats are playing that game now of looking like they're going on the offense because they're trying to defend themselves from all of the shenanigans they were involved with the deep state before the [2016 presidential] election," she added.

    The resolution vote comes days after negotiations between top Judiciary Committee and US Department of Justice officials stalled, with the sides unable to agree on what information lawmakers should be able to access. This marks the latest move by US legislators to obtain an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump team.

    Should the resolution pass in the House, the matter will be sent as a criminal referral to Jessie Liu, the US attorney for the District of Columbia.

    Earlier Wednesday, US President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege over Mueller's report, a move that he'd previously promised to make if House Democrats were to pursue the contempt vote against Barr. Speaking on the development, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump had "no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege."


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