Rep. Nadler preparing to subpoena Attorney General William Barr for testimony

The House Judiciary Committee chairman intends to subpoena Barr for July 2. Nadler has criticized the attorney general over the firing of a top prosecutor in New York.
Image: Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee markup of the Justice in Policing Act
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler listens during committee markup on HR 7120, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, in Washington on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.Sarah Silbiger / Pool via Reuters

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By Haley Talbot and Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — The Democrat who leads the House Judiciary Committee is set to subpoena Attorney General William Barr for testimony early next month, NBC News has confirmed.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., is preparing to subpoena testimony on July 2, a committee spokesperson confirmed Monday night.

"We have begun the process to issue that subpoena," Nadler said Monday night on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

News of the planned subpoena was reported earlier Monday by Axios.

Barr has been criticized in recent days for the abrupt removal of the top prosecutor for the influential Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, over the weekend.

Nadler said Sunday on CNN that Barr deserves to be impeached but that doing so would be a waste of time because the majority-Republican Senate would never convict him.

Barr had been scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee in March, but his testimony was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, acknowledged that Nadler intends to subpoena Barr, but he objected to it.

"Attorney General Barr remains willing to testify voluntarily once the pandemic concludes," wrote Jordan, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump's. "Accordingly, there is no legitimate basis for you to compel his testimony at this time."

Jordan also wrote that circumstances had not changed enough since March to warrant a subpoena.

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When Barr and House Democrats reached an agreement on testimony this spring, Democrats wrote that they planned to ask him about the Justice Department's decision to overrule career prosecutors and propose a reduction in the prison sentence for Trump confidant Roger Stone.

Democrats also wrote then that they planned to ask about the Justice Department's dealings with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as well as the removal of Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who oversaw the prosecutions of Stone; Trump's deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates; and Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

After Berman's removal was announced in a surprise move Friday night — Berman said he was not stepping down as Barr had said, which prompted his firing the next day — Nadler said he had invited Berman to testify before the committee.

Jordan wrote that if Nadler issues a subpoena, "I respectfully object and request an in-person business meeting."

Phil Helsel contributed.