New York, May 6 (IANS) Escalating the confrontation with US President Donald Trump’s administration, the Democrats moved on Monday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt after he refused to turn over to a Congressional panel the entire report of a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said that it would vote on Wednesday on a motion to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to comply with its orders to hand over by 9 a.m. Monday the report without portions of it blacked out.
“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,” he said after the deadline passed.
Barr has released a version of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that redacted certain portions of it like secret testimonies and matters relating to ongoing investigations or individuals deemed innocent.
Democrats, who control the House, are pursuing leads that may have the potential to lead to impeachment of Trump for interfering with the probe or help with other Congressional investigations of Trump and his family.
The issue heated up with the letter written by Mueller to Barr questioning the completeness of a report summary he released in March.
The inquiry report absolved Trump of colluding with Russia, while establishing that Moscow did interfere in the elections. It also was inconclusive about allegations that Trump meddled with the probe, which Democrats are now pursuing.
Trump has stood by Barr’s refusal to testify before the Judiciary Committee or to release the report and has said that former White House lawyer Don McGahn and other officials should not appear before Congressional panels.
Barr appeared last week before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. But he was grilled there by Democrats like former prosecutor Kamala Harris, who lunged into him with prosecutorial acuity, stumping him at times.
Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee objecting to its plans to have lawyers question him in addition to Representatives.
If Barr is held in contempt, it would only be the second time it happens to a cabinet member. The only case so far is of then President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder who was held in contempt by a Republican-controlled House in 2012 for failing it give a panel documents about a federal law enforcement sting operation involving guns that went awry.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)