Attorney General William Barr has threatened to skip this upcoming week’s House Judiciary hearing over Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) proposal to have committee staff question him.
Barr has reportedly threatened to not testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday over reports that Chairman Nadler wants to have Democrat Judiciary staff, not members of Congress, question Barr regarding his management of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Department of Justice (DOJ) officials contend that lawmakers, not staffers, should conduct the hearing.
“The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress; therefore Congress does the questioning,” one DOJ official said.
DOJ officials reportedly told the committee that they oppose any plans to go into a closed session if they want to discuss the redacted parts of the Mueller report.
Negotiations between the DOJ and the House Judiciary Committee will continue on Monday; Barr will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday where the committee will hold a normal hearing involving senators questioning the attorney general.
A spokesperson for the House Judiciary Committee Republican minority said:
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.
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.
Fox News reported that it remains unusual for committee counsels to question witnesses; however, Senate Republicans last year hired an outside prosecutor to question Christine Blasey Ford, who accused then-Supreme Court justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault back in the 1980s.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler said that special counsel Mueller needs to testify before the committee that “we clearly cannot believe” what Barr tells us regarding the Mueller report.