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Attorney General William Barr Refuses To Testify Before House Committee


A day after being grilled by Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for several hours, Attorney General William Barr refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday for what was likely to be equally contentious hearing.

Barr had been called to testify before the committee regarding special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion with President Donald Trump's campaign.

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec attributed Barr's decision skip the hearing to "unprecedented and unnecessary" conditions placed on the hearing by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., including having the attorney general face questioning from staff attorneys.

"Chairman Nadler's insistence on having staff question the Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, is inappropriate," Kupec said in a statement.

Kupec also called Nadler's request "unnecessary," noting the majority of the committee members are themselves attorneys.

The criticism of Nadler's insistence that staff attorneys be allowed to question Barr comes even though Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee utilized an outside counsel to question now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

In remarks opening a brief, Barr-less hearing, Nadler said he believes he was right to insist on extended questioning in light of the attorney general's "lack of candor" before other congressional committees.

"But even if Democrats and Republicans disagree on the format of this hearing, we must come together to protect the integrity of this chamber," Nadler said. "The Administration may not dictate the terms of a hearing in this hearing room. The challenge we face is bigger than a single witness."

Nadler noted that the Justice Department also informed him that they will not comply with the committee's subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and the underlying evidence.

The chairman said he would continue to seek access to an unredacted version of Mueller's report and threatened to hold Barr in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith.

"The Attorney General must make a choice. Every one of us must make the same choice," Nadler said. "The choice is simple: we can stand up to this President in defense of the country and the Constitution we love, or we can let the moment pass us by."

"I do not know what Attorney General Barr will choose. I do not know what my Republican colleagues will choose," he added. "But I am certain that there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger to our constitutional order."

The hearing in the House Judiciary Committee came a day after Barr faced tough questions about his handling of the Mueller report from Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Democratic Senators grilled Barr about issues such as his decision not to pursue obstruction of justice charges against Trump and Mueller's letter expressing concerns about the attorney general's summary of the report, which the nation's top law enforcement official described as "a bit snitty."

A number of Democratic lawmakers have called on Barr to resign over his handling of the Mueller report, accusing the attorney general of acting as Trump's defense lawyer rather than representing the American people.

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