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Barr declines to testify before House Judiciary Committee, setting stage for legal battle

Image: U.S. Attorney General Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Commi
U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "The Justice Department's Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election." on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2019. -
Aaron P. Bernstein
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WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr has opted not to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, an aide to the committee said Wednesday evening.

The Justice Department and Democrats on the committee had been at odds over whether the attorney general could be questioned by staffers, in additional to lawmakers. Barr wanted to be questioned only by House members.

Barr's decision not to appear could lead House Democrats to subpoena him, setting the stage for a potential legal battle with the Trump administration.

The Justice Department is expected to issue a letter Wednesday evening stating the decision.

Barr spent several hours Wednesday testifying about special counsel Robert Mueller's report before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was not questioned by aides, only by senators.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement: "It's a shame Members of the House Judiciary Committee won't get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing. The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow."

This is a developing story; check back for updates.