House Judiciary chairman gives ultimatum to AG Barr, could move to contempt proceedings

Barr has until Monday or the panel could move to hold him in contempt.

May 3, 2019, 1:07 PM

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has sent Attorney General William Barr a counteroffer to his subpoena for access to the underlying documents and redacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in 2016 election: comply by Monday at 9 a.m. or the panel could moving to hold Barr in contempt.

The letter, sent to Barr on Friday, states “the Committee remains willing to negotiate a reasonable accommodation with the Department” and suggested that the department “prioritize a specific, defined set of underlying investigative and evidentiary materials for immediate production.” Nadler, however, asks Barr to reconsider his refusal to let members of Congress view the redacted grand jury material in the report.

“The committee is prepared to make every realistic effort to reach an accommodation with the department,” Nadler wrote. “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 battle for members of Congress to gain full access to the un-redacted Mueller report has been ongoing since Barr released the redacted report to the public on April 18.

The next day, Nadler subpoenaed the un-redacted document along with underlying grand jury evidence and testimony and requested the subpoena be met by May 1.

PHOTO: Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler arrives for a House Judiciary Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing in Washington, April 30, 2019.
Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler arrives for a House Judiciary Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing in Washington, April 30, 2019.
CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE

"We need the entire report unredacted, and the underlying documents, in order to make informed decisions," Nadler said on Good Morning America the day he issued the subpoena.

The Department of Justice has said a version of the Mueller report that has fewer redactions than the publicly available document is currently available for viewing by members in congressional leadership, including Nadler. Democrats have rejected this, saying they believe every member of Congress should have access to the report and underlying material.

Barr has not complied with the subpoena, and on May 1, the Department of Justice wrote to Nadler informing his committee of its intentions.

Barr was a no-show as the House Judiciary Committee met Thursday morning after the Justice Department said would he would decline to testify before the panel amid disagreements over the hearing's format, prompting a threat that he could be held in contempt of Congress.

On Thursday, Nadler issued a sweeping condemnation of Barr and the administration's posture towards congressional oversight, slamming Barr's decision to skip the hearing, and the Justice Department's decision to ignore the committee's subpoena for the full, unredacted report.

"Unfortunately, even after the Attorney General volunteered to testify, Chairman Nadler placed conditions on the House Judiciary Committee hearing that are unprecedented and unnecessary," a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.

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