Nadler threatens Barr with contempt over Mueller report

The Judiciary Committee chair's original deadline for the Justice Department to comply with the subpoena was May 1.

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By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent a final counteroffer Friday to Attorney General William Barr to obtain the full version of the special counsel's report, along with an ultimatum: If the Justice Department doesn’t comply, the panel will initiate contempt proceedings.

“The Committee is prepared to make every realistic effort to reach an accommodation with the Department. But if the Department persists in its baseless refusal to comply with a validly issued subpoena, the Committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse,” Nadler wrote in a letter detailing Democrats' new demands.

Nadler, who issued a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report and the underlying evidence on April 19, gave the Department of Justice a new deadline of 9 a.m. ET Monday to respond. Nadler's original deadline for the department to comply with the subpoena was Wednesday.

The DOJ declined to comment.

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In the Friday letter, Nadler asked that DOJ reconsider its refusal to allow all members of Congress and appropriate staff to review redacted portions of the report in a secure location, excluding grand jury material. The DOJ is only allowing 12 top lawmakers to view it, which Democrats have refused to do because they wouldn't be able to discuss it with their colleagues.

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Nadler also asked that DOJ work directly with Congress to seek a court order for the grand jury material in Mueller's report, writing that there is precedent for the courts to authorize the release. Barr, however, has suggested in his congressional testimony that he has no interest in seeking the release of grand jury materials.

“Lastly, it cannot go unremarked that, in refusing to comply with congressional oversight requests, the Department has repeatedly asserted that Congress’s requests do not serve 'legitimate' purposes. This is not the Department’s judgment to make,” Nadler said. “Congress’s constitutional, oversight and legislative interest in investigating misconduct by the President and his associates cannot be disputed.”

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the committee's ranking member, said in a statement Friday that Nadler has placed "absurd demands on the department to comply with his oversight request."

"Democrats continue to cite no precedent for the Justice Department ceding Congress grand jury materials outside of impeachment proceedings," Collins said.

"Democrats continue to deliver inaccurate statements and abusive politics, while demanding the attorney general either break the law or face contempt charges," he added.

Nadler’s letter comes a day after Barr declined to show up for a scheduled hearing before the judiciary panel to discuss the Mueller investigation. Democrats said that he decided not to testify because of conditions they imposed for questioning Barr in a closed session after a public appearance. Nadler held the hearing anyway, and warned that, “If he does not provide this committee with the information it demands and the respect it deserves, Mr. Barr’s moment of accountability will come soon enough.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Barr committed a crime during testimony last month in which the attorney general denied knowledge of concerns raised by Mueller's team over his four-page summary of Mueller's 448-page report.

"He lied to Congress," she said. "If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law — not the president of the United States, not the attorney general."