After enduring close to six hours of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr has withdrawn his voluntary appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
A spokesperson from the Department of Justice said the decision was the result of rule changes introduced by Democrat, and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler.
“Although we worked to accommodate his concerns, he objects to the prospect of answering questions by staff counsel and that we may go into executive session to discuss certain sensitive topics,” Nadler said, opening up the committee hearing without Barr present.
“Given the attorney general’s lack of candor before other congressional committees, I believe my colleagues and I were right to extended questioning,” the chairman continued.
Here’s more, from ABC News:
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 Mueller report.
Democrats, he said, would continue to negotiate for more access to the full Mueller report over the next few days but would have “no choice” but to hold Barr in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department fails to negotiate in “good faith.”
“If left unchecked, this act of obstruction will make it that much harder for us to hold the Executive Branch accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse, or to enact legislation to curb that kind of misconduct—no matter which party holds this chamber or the White House at a given moment,” Nadler said.
“In the days since the Department of Justice released a redacted version of the report, President Trump has told Congress that he plans to fight all of our subpoenas. The average person is not free to ignore a congressional subpoena—and neither is the President,” Nadler said, referencing administration efforts to block other committees’ inquiries.”
Speaking to a group of reporters, Chairman Nadler said on Wednesday: “When push comes to shove, the administration cannot dictate the terms of our hearing and our hearing room.”
ABC News reports Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec issued a statement to announce that Barr would not attend his scheduled House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Today, the Attorney General testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for over five hours. The Attorney General also voluntarily released the Special Counsel’s confidential report with minimal redactions to Congress and the public, made an even-less redacted report available to Chairman Nadler and congressional leadership (which they have refused to review), and made himself available to the Committee by volunteering to testify this week,” Kupec said in the statement.
“Unfortunately, even after the Attorney General volunteered to testify, Chairman Nadler placed conditions on the House Judiciary Committee hearing that are unprecedented and unnecessary. Congress and the Executive branch are co-equal branches of government, and each have a constitutional obligation to respect and accommodate one another’s legitimate interests,” she continued.
“Chairman Nadler’s insistence on having staff question the Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, is inappropriate,” Kupec contended in the statement. “Further, in light of the fact that the majority of the House Judiciary Committee — including Chairman Nadler — are themselves attorneys, and the Chairman has the ability and authority to fashion the hearing in a way that allows for efficient and thorough questioning by the Members themselves, the Chairman’s request is also unnecessary.”
“The Attorney General remains happy to engage directly with Members on their questions regarding the report and looks forward to continue working with the Committee on their oversight requests,” the statement concluded.
Republican Congressman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Doug Collins similarly remarked that Barr was not showing up due to Democrats’ “stunt and circus.”
“The reason Bill Barr is not here today is that Democrats didn’t want him here,” Collins said.
“You can disagree with the attorney general all you want, but yesterday he sat for six hours of questions,” he added. “We’re not getting that opportunity today because the stunt and circus continues over here.”