House Judiciary panel moving to hold AG Barr in contempt

Image: William Barr
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, 2019. Copyright J. Scott Applewhite AP file
Copyright J. Scott Applewhite AP file
By Dareh Gregorian and Mike Memoli and Alex Moe with NBC News Politics
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The attorney general did not comply with a demand from House Democrats to turn over unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.


The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena to provide Congress with an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the underlying evidence.

The panel had initially demanded that Barr turn over the report by May 1, and then made him a counteroffer after he let that deadline slip.

"Even in redacted form, the Special Counsel's report offers disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels," the panel's chairman, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement on Monday. "Congress must see the full report and underlying evidence to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation, and other constitutional responsibilities."

"The Attorney General's failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report," Nadler continued.

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler speaks during a hearing on March 26, 2019.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler speaks during a hearing on March 26, 2019.Joshua Roberts

If the committee signs off on the panel's contempt resolution, it would then go for a vote in the full House. The timing of that vote would be up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The ranking Republican on the panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, said Barr could not comply with the subpoena because it contains grand jury information that he's not legally entitled to share.

"Chairman Nadler knows full subpoena compliance requires Attorney General Barr to break the law. Yet, instead of introducing legislation allowing the attorney general to provide Congress grand jury material, Democrats move to hold him in contempt," Collins said, calling the move "illogical and disingenuous."

Nadler had asked the Department of Justice to reconsider its refusal to allow all members of Congress and appropriate staff to review redacted portions of the report in a secure location, excluding grand jury material. The Justice Department is only allowing 12 top lawmakers to view those materials, which Democrats have refused to do because they wouldn't be able to discuss it with their colleagues.

The panel's contempt report outlines why the committee is demanding the special counsel's report — and raises the prospect of impeachment.

"The purposes of this investigation include: 1) investigating and exposing any possible malfeasance, abuse of power, corruption, obstruction of justice, or other misconduct on the part of the President or other members of his Administration; 2) considering whether the conduct uncovered may warrant amending or creating new federal authorities, including among other things, relating to election security, campaign finance, misuse of electronic data, and the types of obstructive conduct that the Mueller Report describes; and 3) considering whether any of the conduct described in the Special Counsel's Report warrants the Committee in taking any further steps under Congress' Article I powers. That includes whether to approve articles of impeachment with respect to the President or any other Administration official," the report says.

In a statement, Nadler said he would consider postponing the contempt proceeding if the Justice Department "presents us with a good faith offer for access to the full report and the underlying evidence."

Barr was slated to testify before the panel last week, butdid not appear.

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