By Jon Dougherty
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler is trying to pull a fast one with Attorney General William Barr, and the AG will have none of it.
Barr was asked to testify before Nadler’s committee to answer questions about redactions he made to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report before he released it earlier this month. The AG noted that he would be happy to answer whatever questions he could.
But Nadler has other plans for Barr, and they include an attempt to depose the AG as though he were on trial for something when he’s really just supposed to be showing up to answer questions from lawmakers, not their staff attorneys.
Attorney General William Barr threatened to skip testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee if the format Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) proposed is what’s used for the hearing later this week. Nadler wanted each member of the Committee to have five minutes each to ask Barr whatever questions they saw fit in relation to the redacted areas of the Mueller report.
The second round of questioning would include 30 minutes from each parties’ Committee counselors. According to CNN, the questioning from the parties’ Committee counselors is what the Department of Justice takes issue with.
“He [Barr] is not going to dictate the format of the Judiciary Committee,” Nadler told reporters. He said that each member having five minutes to ask questions followed by each parties’ Committee counselors having 30 minutes for questions is “a standard method of doing things.”
“In my judgment, it’s an effective way of doing things,” Nadler said. “And the witness is not going to tell the Committee how to conduct its hearing. Period.”
Yes, well, the AG — a longtime Washington figure who’s been there, done that when it comes to dealing with the congressional Democrat clown show, isn’t having any of Nadler’s buffoonery.
If Congress wants to talk to William Barr, the Attorney General will be happy to show up. If their staff attorneys want to talk to Barr, the Department of Justice announced yesterday, Barr has better uses of his time. The conflict over the format for Barr’s appearance at the House Judiciary Committee could derail the entire event.
“The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress. Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning,” Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement Sunday. “He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report.”
The real issue isn’t about Barr’s ‘appearance’ before Congress, per se; it’s about what Democrats are attempting to get him to reveal from the redacted versions of the Mueller report they can then use to their political advantage through selective leaks to friendly Washington media types at The New York Times and the Washington Post.
If Barr chooses to ignore Dem requests to have him testify?
“Then we will have to subpoena him, and we will have to use whatever means we can to enforce the subpoena,” Nadler said.
Go for it, say Republicans (and remember how well that worked out when the GOP held Obama’s first AG, Eric Holder, in contempt — there was no one at his Justice Department to enforce the contempt holding, and Barr’s not likely to enforce a contempt allegation against himself, either).
“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 official appears before us,” the Committee Republicans’ spokesperson told CNN.
“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,” the spokesperson added.
Democrats are not interested in anything but tripping up this president, period, and Barr is well aware of that.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10