Attorney General Bill Barr will apparently not be attending the anticipated hearing before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, according to a source on the committee who spoke to Fox News on Sunday. The question as to whether or not he was going to show comes after numerous attacks against Barr from congressional Democrats, who have accused him of giving up his integrity to make President Trump happy.
In recent weeks, Barr was at the head of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which has caused him to become a target for progressives who are upset because Mueller’s probe didn’t find any evidence that proved that Trump and his team colluded with Russians. According to Fox News, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler wants the Judiciary Committee team, instead of the members of Congress, to question Bar on how he handled the Mueller report.
Officials from the DOJ believe that members of Congress should conduct the questioning. According to a conversation a DOJ official had with Fox News, “The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress; therefore Congress does the questioning.” According to a Democratic senior committee aide, while speaking to The Associated Press, officials also told the committee that they are against the panel’s plan to enter into a closed session if members are intending on speaking about the redacted version of Mueller’s report.
Thursday’s hearing is still being discussed, and it is expected to be the first topic of discussion on Monday, as well. Barr is supposed to be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and the House panel on Thursday. The Senate committee is expected to have the typical rounds of member questioning. “Attorney General Barr wasn’t asked to testify before the committee—he offered. He provided the Mueller report voluntarily. He invited Democrat leaders to view the less redacted report in person. Yet the only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less redacted report, is to have staff pinch hit when a cabinet-level official appears before us,” said a spokesperson for House Judiciary Committee Republicans in an interview with Fox News.
The spokesperson continued by saying: “What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations—as Democrat leadership reminds us daily—don’t constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee.”
It isn’t common for committee counsels to question witnesses, but committees can typically make their own rules, and similar exceptions have been made in the past. For example, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee hired an outside prosecutor during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to question a witness that had accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Earlier this month, Barr faced angry Democrats before the complete Mueller report with limited redactions was released. Democrats explained that it was “unacceptable” that Barr turned in a 4-page summary for Mueller’s report, which was hundreds of pages long. Now, the House Democrats and the Trump administration are going toe-to-toe because the Democrats want full access to Mueller’s entire unredacted report as well as the government witnesses who have ignored congressional subpoenas to testify.
The Justice Department has been subpoenaed by the House Democrats for the unredacted version of Mueller’s report and the material that supports its findings. In response to the subpoena, the Justice Department has stated that they will provide the entire report, minus the grand jury material that legally has to be withheld, to a limited group of members. The Democrats have refused their offer so far, which could mean that the dispute could eventually end up in court. Barr has been criticized by the Democrats for making his own conclusion that Trump didn’t obstruct justice, even though Mueller found that he couldn’t exonerate Trump for that. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that Barr is involved in “staggering public effort” to put on a positive face in regards to Mueller’s findings.
Nadler has asked Mueller to testify. He also subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn, who was a vital witness for Mueller in his report. The White House has made it known that will be fighting against the McGahn subpoena. Last week, Trump told Fox News that he didn’t use his executive privilege to cover up any of the Mueller report, and it’s time to move on.
Liberal comedian, Bill Maher, seems to agree with Trump on that point. While speaking to Rep. Adam Schiff, Maher said that Democrats seem to be “stalking” President Trump by not letting go of the discredited issue. Apparently, a former staffer of the White House has agreed to testify at the risk of being held in contempt of Congress. On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will be interviewing Carl Kline, who was once the White House’s personnel security director. Kline was subpoenaed after a former subordinate told the panel that officials for Trump’s administration were granted security clearances even though they had “disqualifying issues” in their background.