Democrats Threaten Contempt for Barr Over Mueller Report
The House Judiciary Committee is threatening to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress if he does not comply with a new Monday deadline for providing special counsel Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report on his Russia probe and some underlying materials.
The new offer from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler comes after the Justice Department missed the committee's earlier deadline for the information. Nadler slightly narrowed his offer in a new letter to Barr on Friday, saying the committee would limit its request for underlying materials to those directly cited in the report.
He also asked for the department to work with Congress to seek a court order for secret grand jury materials, a request Barr has previously denied.
"The Committee is prepared to make every realistic effort to reach an accommodation with the department," Nadler wrote to Barr. "But if the department persists in its baseless refusal to comply with a validly issued subpoena, the committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse."
The contempt threat comes a day after Barr skipped a Judiciary panel hearing on Mueller's report amid a dispute over how Barr would be questioned. Nadler said after that hearing that he would give the Justice Department one more chance to send the full report and then he would move forward with holding Barr in contempt. Nadler set a 9 a.m. Monday deadline for the Justice Department to respond to the latest offer.
Democrats have assailed Barr's handling of the Mueller report and questioned the truthfulness of his statements to Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she believed Barr had lied about his communications with Mueller in testimony last month, and that was a "crime." Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called Pelosi's accusation "reckless, irresponsible and false."
In the letter, Nadler wrote to Barr that "Congress's constitutional, oversight and legislative interest in investigating misconduct by the President and his associates cannot be disputed."
In terms of the underlying materials, Nadler said the committee wants to see witness interviews and "items such as contemporaneous notes" that are cited in the report. He also asked that all members of Congress be allowed to review an unredacted version of the report. The Justice Department has made a less redacted version available for House and Senate leaders and some committee heads, but the Democrats have said that is not enough and have so far declined to read it.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the new letter. But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that she believes "at no point will it ever be enough" for Democrats.
"It is astonishing to me that not a single Democrat has yet to go read the less redacted version of the report, yet they keep asking for more," Sanders said.