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Congress Looks At Holding William Barr In Contempt If He Skips Committee Hearing

Congress Looks At Holding William Barr In Contempt If He Skips Committee Hearing

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have met twice this week to discuss whether or not they should proceed to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress if he refuses to meet with them for a hearing later this week or supply subpoenaed documents they have requested.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 1: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr testified on the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

During closed-door meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, Democrats on the committee seemed to come to the conclusion that a contempt order was warranted if Barr didn’t appear before them for a Thursday hearing. Lawmakers and officials who spoke to the Washington Post anonymously on the issue cautioned, however, that a final decision wasn’t yet reached on the matter.

One member of the committee, Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), was vocal about the committee’s options should Barr skip out on the hearing.

“We are now seeing the attorney general engage in obstruction of a congressional subpoena. Congress has a number of tools at its disposal, obviously beginning with holding him in contempt,” Cicilline said.

Being held in contempt by Congress carries with it the possibility of Barr being jailed for refusing a congressional order, although the practice is rarely used.

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Several Democratic members of Congress allege Barr may have lied to Congress regarding issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

In a letter to Congress late in March, Barr alleged that the Mueller report found no wrongdoing with regard to the Trump campaign’s alleged coordination with Russia, and he suggested that allegations of obstruction of justice didn’t warrant any charges against the president or his inner-circle.

In subsequent hearings days after that letter was submitted, Barr testified before Congress that he was not aware of Mueller’s viewpoints when it came to the special counsel’s opinion on Barr’s findings.

In actuality, Mueller had sent Barr a letter, in which he stated the attorney general’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” and called Barr directly to express the same sentiments, according to reporting from Talking Points Memo, causing some lawmakers to call for Barr to resign from his position for lying to the legislative branch while under oath.

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