Statement by Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, on Today’s House Contempt Citation Vote
“Last July the Justice Department informed the House leadership that longstanding Department precedent, dating back through several Administrations of both parties, did not allow a United States Attorney to refer a congressional contempt citation to a grand jury or otherwise to prosecute an Executive Branch official who carried out a Presidential instruction to invoke the President’s claim of executive privilege before a committee of Congress. The Department also issued a legal opinion advising that the assertion of executive privilege on which the Presidential instruction to these officials was based was legally proper. In his recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the Attorney General informed the Committee that he would examine a contempt referral if it happened, but cautioned that he did not expect that he would act in contravention of the longstanding Department precedent applicable to this situation. The Attorney General is overseas and has not yet had an opportunity to review the contempt citation, which to our knowledge has not yet been transmitted to the Department. He will, however, act promptly when he has the opportunity to review the citation.”
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