The House Judiciary Committee will move forward Thursday morning with a hearing on special counsel Robert Mueller's report even though the star witness they hoped to question, Attorney General William Barr, opted against testifying.
Barr and the committee's Democratic leadership were at odds over the format of the hearing — specifically whether the attorney general could be questioned by staff in addition to lawmakers. Barr made clear he only wanted to be questioned by House members.
The decision not to appear before the committee — which is holding the hearing one day after Barr was grilled by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — could lead to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaing the attorney general.
"Unfortunately, even after the attorney general volunteered to testify, Chairman Nadler placed conditions on the House Judiciary Committee hearing that are unprecedented and unnecessary," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
Nadler said Wednesday night that he was not planning to issue a subpoena immediately to compel Barr's testimony and instead would focus on the Department of Justice having missed the subpoena deadline for the full unredacted Mueller report, which was set for Wednesday.
If that cannot be worked out in the coming days, Nadler said his committee would begin contempt proceedings against Barr, which would be separate from any issues over his refusal to testify Thursday.