Top Democrat threatens to hold U.S. Attorney General Barr in contempt

William Barr skips out on House panel hearing

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Democrats intensified their pressure on President Donald Trump's administration on Thursday as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to lawmakers and a key committee chairman threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. Democratic members of the committee had fun with the spectacle, placing a prop chicken by Barr's microphone - to underscore their contention that he was afraid to appear - and jokingly looking under the desk to make sure he wasn't there. Like his new client, President Trump, Barr should resign, but of course, neither will.

The House Judiciary Committee went forward with a hearing on the special counsel report Thursday without scheduled witness Attorney General William Barr, his empty seat at the witness table a sign of a broader separation of powers battle ahead.

After his no-show, Pelosi said Barr's testimony to Congress raised "deadly serious" questions as "the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United states".

The House Judiciary chairman also said he would consider a contempt citation against the attorney-general in the next day or two, if the Justice Department continued to defy the subpoena for the unredacted report.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee slammed Barr at Wednesday's hearing saying he misled Congress after the release of Mueller's letter.

Said Cohen: "Chicken Barr should have shown up and answered questions!"

Mr Barr's decision not to testify surfaced hours after the committee adopted a more aggressive format that would subject the Attorney-General to an extra hour of questions from committee lawyers, in addition to questions from Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the panel. "That's a crime", Pelosi said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

"He's here", Cohen said, pointing to the chicken and referring to AG Barr who is not attending after a grilling in the Senate.

She said Barr's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday wasn't about "technicalities" or how he characterized Mueller's report in the four-page summary in which he said Trump did not collude with the Russians for obstruct justice. Committee Democrats have vowed to issue a subpoena to try to force Barr to testify if he does not show up.

As Democrats portrayed Barr as untruthful, they sought to speak to Mueller himself.

Barr's summary, Mueller wrote, "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions".

"We will make one more good faith attempt to negotiate and to get the access to the report that we need, and if we don't get that, we will proceed to hold the attorney general in contempt", Nadler said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman addressed Mueller's letter and the follow-up phone call in a statement to the Post. Posturing Democrats on the judicial committee gave long soliloquies on Barr's treacherous behavior. Sen.

"I think that the statements being made by the president of the United States as giving a blanket statement that he's not going to honor any subpoenas is obstruction of justice", Pelosi said.

Crist asked Barr whether he knew why Mueller and his team of investigators were "frustrated at some level with the limited information included" in the initial letter on the report which Barr sent to Congress, according to the Miami Herald.

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