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House drops plan to hold Barr in criminal contempt
Attorney General William Barr can relax — no one’s coming to arrest him just yet. House Judiciary Committee Democrats reached a deal on Monday to get more documents from the Justice Department related to potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, which caused them to cancel a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in criminal contempt that had been scheduled for Tuesday.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerold Nadler said the documents were needed so his committee members could carry out their ‘constitutional duties.’ The committee had subpoenaed the entire unredacted Mueller report and supporting documents, which Barr and the Trump administration insisted could not be legally turned over because they contained classified information.
Barr Legally Barred From Releasing Full Report
Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said in April that Barr could not legally release an unredacted Mueller report because under U.S. law, Barr is prohibited from revealing details about individuals connected to the investigation who have not been charged with any crime.
The report is said to contain grand jury testimony for cases that have not yet resulted in charges, and Barr would be violating the law if he released this information. The House Judiciary Committee surely knows this, but they are insisting on getting the full report anyway.
Barr has been assured that Trump will not face charges over the information being released, but House Democrats are expected to use it in any eventual impeachment proceedings that might occur. At least some of the documents will be released today, with others coming soon.
‘Today’s good faith provision from the administration further debunks claims that the White House is stonewalling Congress, which Chairman Schiff’s successful negotiations with the Justice Department already showed,” top Republican committee member Rep. Doug Collins (GA) said.
Civil Contempt Still Moving Forward
While the House has put the criminal contempt vote on hold, civil contempt votes against Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn for ignoring House subpoenas to testify are expected to proceed as planned. McGahn’s testimony is sought to confirm a New York Times report that Trump had ordered him to fire Mueller.
Although Democrats want to characterize such an alleged order to McGahn by Trump as obstruction of justice, in fact, Trump would have been well within his rights to fire Mueller. McGahn was said to have ignored Trump’s order to fire Mueller until Trump finally decided that it wasn’t in his best interest to do so.
Barr’s refusal to testify stems from a disagreement over ground rules for the testimony. House Democrats reportedly wanted lawyers to be able to question Barr along with members of the committee, which might expose Barr to criminal charges if he was even a little bit inconsistent in his statements.
Barr did testify before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee. House committee chair Jerry Nadler also wants to bring in Mueller and others featured in the report for testimony as well.
The House is also voting Tuesday on legislation that would allow them to enforce subpoenas faster in court than can currently be done. Under the new legislation, committee chairs could go to court directly to have subpoenas enforced. Trump has ordered numerous officials to ignore subpoenas from Congress.
Why would Trump do that? Because he knows that House Democrats will try every perjury trap and dirty trick in the book to try to get him by any means, even dishonest ones. He doesn’t trust House Democrats, and why would he? They’ve already tried a coup of sorts. Is there really anything else they won’t do at this point?
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