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Democrats Move to Hold Attorney General in Contempt Over Failure to Release Full Mueller Report

The Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee issued a report holding Barr, an appointee of President Donald Trump, in contempt after he failed to produce the full report by the 9 AM (EDT) deadline today.


Updated:May 6, 2019, 8:37 PM IST
Democrats Move to Hold Attorney General in Contempt Over Failure to Release Full Mueller Report
Attorney General William Barr released Barr released a redacted version of the report on April 18. (Image : Reuters)

Washington: Democrats in the US House of Representatives on Monday took a step toward citing Attorney General William Barr for contempt of Congress for failing to hand over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full unredacted report on his Russia investigation.

The Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee issued a report citing Barr, an appointee of President Donald Trump, for contempt after a subpoena deadline for Barr to produce the full report and underlying evidence had expired at 9 AM EDT (1300 GMT).

The committee was due to meet on Wednesday at 10 AM EDT (1400 GMT) to consider adopting the report. If it does, then the full House would vote on holding Barr in contempt of Congress, according to a congressional aide.

The report calls on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take "all appropriate action" to enforce a subpoena issued by committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, for the full Mueller report on April 19.

Some Democrats have called on Barr to resign, accusing him of protecting Trump by effectively clearing the president of criminal obstruction of justice and excusing actions viewed by them as evidence of misconduct. Pelosi has charged that the attorney general lied to Congress, adding: "That's a crime."

Nadler's committee views the full Mueller report as vital to its own corruption and obstruction of justice investigation of Trump. The chairs of five other House committees investigating the president have also called for its release.

The Mueller report details extensive contacts between Trump's 2016 campaign but did not find that there was a conspiracy between Moscow and the campaign. The report also describes actions Trump took to try to impede Mueller's investigation.

Barr released a redacted version of the report on April 18.

If lawmakers established that Trump obstructed justice by seeking to impede Mueller, Nadler's panel could move to impeachment proceedings against the president for high crimes and misdemeanours.

Trump denied any wrongdoing in a tweet on Monday. "Also, there are 'No High Crimes & Misdemeanors,' No Collusion, No Conspiracy, No Obstruction. ALL THE CRIMES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE, and that’s what the Dems should be looking at, but they won’t. Nevertheless, the tables are turning!" the president wrote on Twitter.

A contempt citation could lead to a civil court case against Barr, raising the possibility of fines and even imprisonment for failure to comply.

Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat on Nadler's panel, says lawmakers could exercise their little-used authority to act outside the court system and fine or even imprison officials who do not comply with congressional subpoenas.

"We have to take this in a deadly serious way," he told Fox News Sunday. Cicilline warned that the Trump administration could "extinguish our oversight function" by refusing to provide testimony and evidence.

After missing the initial subpoena deadline for turning over the Mueller material, Barr skipped a hearing before Nadler's committee last Thursday, after Democrats adopted an aggressive format that would have subjected the attorney general to questions from staff attorneys.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will investigate the origins of allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Graham and other Republicans have alleged that some Justice Department officials under former President Barack Obama may have sought to undermine Trump for political reasons.

Republicans also reject Nadler's efforts as political theatre, which they say is intended to satisfy a progressive voter base that helped give Democrats control of the House in last year's midterm election.

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