Amid a growing controversy over the Justice Department's handling of several criminal cases involving former advisers to President Donald Trump, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is pressing for Attorney General William Barr to immediately testify when Washington reopens in early June.
"Now that the District of Columbia has expanded the stay-at-home order until June 8, we expect to see Barr in front of our committee on June 9th — the very next day," Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told MSNBC on Wednesday, saying his office is in active communication with the Justice Department.
Nadler volunteered that he would apply additional pressure if necessary, mentioning Congress' funding authority and its power to subpoena Barr.
"We're prepared to do whatever we have to do — we will consider all those methods," Nadler said, adding, "We cannot have a situation where the attorney general just thumbs his nose and the administration holds Congress in contempt."
The Justice Department has not announced plans regarding testimony from Barr. It had originally agreed to have Barr testify before the Judiciary Committee on March 31, but the hearing was delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Nadler's comments come amid debates over recent actions in the handling of several cases growing out of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including a Justice Department motion to drop the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a separate federal process that led to the early release of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from prison for home confinement and controversy over whether former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is being held in prison despite plans to release him over coronavirus concerns.
Earlier, the Justice Department overruled its own career prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Trump adviser Roger Stone.
This week, nearly 2,000 Justice Department veterans signed an open letter calling on Barr to resign over allegations that he is politically meddling in the cases.
"That's why we have to have Barr in front of us on the 9th to get to the bottom" of things, Nadler said, arguing that Barr is "subverting the Department of Justice into a personal agent of the president and subverting justice."