President Donald Trump signaled Monday that he’s ready for an onslaught from Democrats this week on Capitol Hill, where his attorney general is scheduled to testify twice.
Democrats have summoned Attorney General William Barr for hearings in both chambers. They intend to probe him on the contents of the Mueller report and his refusal to give them an unredeacted version.
Justice says that Barr may not comply with a demand to sit before them a second time this week for a House Judiciary Committee grilling on Thursday.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, says that Barr won’t ‘dictate’ the terms of his appearances.
Trump jumped in the melee with a Monday morning tweet that builds on his argument that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report should be testimony enough.
Attorney General William Barrmight be a no-show at a scheduled May 2 House hearing on the Mueller report
‘Bob Mueller was a great HERO to the Radical Left Democrats. Now that the Mueller Report is finished, with a finding of NO COLLUSION & NO OBSTRUCTION (based on a review of Report by our highly respected A.G.), the Dems are going around saying, “Bob who, sorry, don’t know the man,” he said.
Democrats are also seeking a session with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who can speak to acts they will try to prove were obstructive to the investigation into election meddling.
Nadler pushed back on Barr’s demands on Sunday, saying, The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period.’
Judiciary Democrat Cedric Richmond said Sunday that Trump ‘attempted to collude’ with Russia and ‘attempted to obstruct justice, at the least. He said he matters should be reviewed by his committee.
‘We have not heard from this president under oath. So the best person we can hear from is Attorney General Barr to find out why, one, his summary, a Cliff Notes version was so different from the facts and two, why won’t he just release the unredacted report?’ he said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, wants committee lawyers to be allowed to grill Barr – a practice that would be unusual but not unprecedented
The aide who spoke to the Associated Press requested anonymity to discuss confidential communications with the DOJ, which declined to comment on the dispute.
Barr is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and the House panel on Thursday. The GOP-led Senate committee is expected to have normal rounds of member questioning without allowed staff attorneys to participate.
It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness, but committees can generally make their own rules and other panels have made similar exceptions.
In a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, for example, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee hired an outside prosecutor to question a witness who had accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
The current dispute comes as tensions have escalated sharply between House Democrats and the Trump administration over full access Mueller’s report and government witnesses who have defied congressional subpoenas to testify. Democrats have been eagerly anticipating the hearing with Barr as they try to build on Mueller’s findings with their own investigations into the president.
House Democrats have subpoenaed the Justice Department for the unredacted version of the Mueller report and underlying material gathered from the investigation.
In response, the Justice Department has said they will make the full report, minus grand jury material, available to a limited group of members – an offer that Democrats have so far refused. The dispute could eventually end up in court.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent the Justice Department a report that Barr was forced to partially redact, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee want the freedom to see what’s under the black boxes by taking the May 2 hearing into ‘closed session’
A spokeswoman for the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, noted that Barr’s testimony is voluntary and criticized the Democrats for not reading the full report.
‘Democrats have yet to prove their demands are anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee,’ Jessica Andrews said.
Democrats have criticized Barr for drawing his own conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice after Mueller found he couldn’t exonerate the president on that point.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Barr is involved in a ‘staggering public effort’ by the Trump administration to put a positive face on Mueller’s findings.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, has also invited Mueller to testify and subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn.
McGahn was a vital witness for Mueller in the report, which recounted the president’s outrage over the Mueller investigation and his efforts to curtail it. The White House has asserted it will fight the McGahn subpoena.