Senior Democrat threatens to hold Barr in contempt of Congress

Jerry Nadler says AG has ‘one or two days’ to comply with subpoena over Mueller report

US Attorney General William Barr dismissed complaints from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the attorney general had disclosed Mueller's conclusions in his Russia investigation in an incomplete way. Video: Reuters

 

Tensions between Democrats and the Department of Justice intensified on Thursday as a key committee threatened to hold attorney general William Barr in contempt of Congress.

Mr Barr, who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, had been due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday about the Mueller report. But he refused to do so because of the committee’s insistence that he be questioned by lawyers as well as members of Congress. Mr Barr has also refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena request that he submit a full, unredacted version of the Mueller report.

Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said he would give Mr Barr “one or two” more days to submit the report before commencing contempt proceedings.

“We will continue to negotiate for access to the full report,” he said. “We will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith.”

Mr Barr published a redacted version of the Mueller report on April 18th, having initially published a four-page summary of its contents in March.

Pelosi’s rebuke

The ratcheting-up of tensions came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the attorney general of lying to Congress – one of her strongest rebukes of Mr Barr since the Mueller report was completed last month.

In a press conference in the US Capitol, Ms Pelosi said William Barr had committed a crime by lying during testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee, though she did not specify exactly how he had lied.

“How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresenting – withholding – the truth from the Congress of the United States, ” she said.

“He lied to Congress; he lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law; not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”

Her comments prompted a sharp rebuke from the Justice Department.

“Speaker Pelosi’s baseless attack on the attorney general is reckless, irresponsible and false,” a department spokeswoman said.

Several Democrats have called for Mr Barr’s resignation following his testimony on Wednesday, in which he was probed about his handling of the Mueller report. In particular, concern has been raised that Mr Barr misrepresented the content of the special counsel’s report in his four-page summary of its findings.

US attorney general William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in Washington DC. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty
US attorney general William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in Washington DC. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty

It follows the release of a letter by Mr Mueller to Mr Barr in which he outlines his concerns that the attorney general “did not fully capture” the substance of the report. A letter by White House counsel Emmet Flood also hit out at Mr Mueller on Thursday, criticising the special counsel for not making a decision on obstruction and instead giving a “road map” to Congress. “The [special counsel] instead produced a prosecutorial curiosity – part ‘truth commission’ report and part law-school exam paper,” Mr Flood wrote.

Fed nominee

Meanwhile, Mr Trump was forced to drop his nominee for the board of the Federal Reserve on Thursday – the second time he has withdrawn a nominee for the prestigious role. In a lunchtime tweet the US president said Stephen Moore was withdrawing from consideration for the post.

Describing Mr Moore as a “great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person”, he said he had asked him to work with him “toward future economic growth in our country”. But there has been growing resistance from senior Republicans about Mr Moore’s candidacy due to his prior comments about women.

Mr Moore’s withdrawal marks the second time in less than two weeks that Mr Trump has been forced to pull a candidate. Former presidential candidate Herman Cain withdrew from the process amid concerns about past sexual harassment allegations, which he denies.