Justice Dept. to Congress: Back off contempt, or Barr will ask Trump to shield census materials

The revelation came on the eve of an expected Oversight Committee vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over documents that lawmakers had subpoenaed, as well as stopping a witness from testifying without a Justice Department lawyer. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that the decision to schedule the vote was “premature,” and accused lawmakers of refusing to negotiate with the department to get at least some of what they wanted.

“In the face of this threatened contempt vote, the Attorney General is now compelled to request that the President invoke executive privilege with respect to the materials subject to the subpoena to the Attorney General and the subpoena to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce,” Boyd wrote. “I hereby request that the Committee hold the subpoenas in abeyance and delay any vote on whether to recommend a citation of contempt for noncompliance with the subpoenas, pending the President’s determination of this question.”

Boyd added that if the committee rejected the request, the department would “be forced to reevaluate its current production efforts in ongoing matters.” He requested the committee respond by 5 p.m. Tuesday and noted the president had not

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