House Dems Move to Hold Barr in Contempt for Refusing to Turn Over Unredacted Mueller Report

Attorney General William Barr listens to a question as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2019. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday on a citation holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt due to his refusal to comply with Democrats’ subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller report and the evidence underlying it.

“The attorney general’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report,” Chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) said in a statement.

Should the Democrat-led committee approve the measure on Wednesday, it will go before the full House for a vote later this month.

The Department of Justice announced last week that it would not comply with Democrats’ request for the full unredacted report and the underlying evidence on the grounds that it amounts to unconstitutional congressional overreach. Nadler then gave Barr until Monday to respond to a revised document request, which he ignored.

Committee Democrats argue in the contempt citation that their requests are consistent with the responsibilities of congressional oversight.

“Congress is therefore the only body able to hold the president to account for improper conduct in our tripartite system, and urgently requires the subpoenaed material to determine whether and how to proceed with its constitutional duty to provide checks and balances on the president and executive branch,” the citation states. “Otherwise, the president remains insulated from legal consequences and sits above the law.”

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the panel, lambasted Nadler and his fellow Democrats for resorting to the threat of a contempt citation while negotiations between the Department of Justice and the Committee are still ongoing, and said they are taking out their anger at the president on his attorney general.

“Democrats have launched a proxy war smearing the attorney general when their anger actually lies with the president and the special counsel, who found neither conspiracy nor obstruction,” Collins said in a statement.

Though some Democrats have considered the possibility of coercing Barr’s cooperation by levying fines on him, the contempt citation will likely prove purely symbolic, as it was when Republicans held then-attorney general Eric Holder in contempt for refusing document requests.

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