Defying Congress, US Attorney-General Barr to skip Mueller hearing

Defying Congress, US Attorney-General Barr to skip Mueller hearing

Defying Congress, US Attorney-General Barr to skip Mueller hearing

After his distressing performance Wednesday, Barr refused to attend a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, citing disagreements about the hearing format.

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.

Those moves are likely to prompt a vote on contempt, and possibly the issuance of subpoenas, bringing House Democrats and the Trump administration closer to a court battle.

A day after Barr appeared at a Senate hearing to defend his handling of the report on Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election, the House's judiciary committee opened a similar session expected to feature an empty chair at the witness table.

Thursday at her weekly press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the Trump administration not complying with congressional subpoenas was obstruction of justice.

Barr strongly defended himself against those criticisms and also Mueller's, saying at one point that Mueller's March letter to him was "snitty".

Democrats are eager to hear from Mueller about the decisions he made during his investigation and his thoughts on Barr's handling of the report.

The Senate hearing on Wednesday was contentious, punctuated by tense exchanges between Barr and some senators.

Democrats have argued Trump waived the right to assert executive privilege - which allows a president to withhold information about internal executive branch deliberations from other branches of government - by allowing advisers to cooperate extensively with Mueller.

Barr is under fire for how he characterised the Mueller report in a summary on March 24, several weeks before the findings were released.

"The Attorney-General remains happy to engage directly with members", the statement said.

"What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America is not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States".

Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, added that neither the attorney general nor Republican President Donald Trump were above the law. "Allowing your committee to use Justice Department investigative files to re-investigate the same matters that the department has investigated and to second- guess decisions that have been made by the department would not only set a risky precedent, but would also have immediate negative consequences", Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to Nadler.

On one hand, I tend to think Barr should've just bit the bullet and showed up, despite the ridiculous game-playing and theatrical demands from Democrats. But earlier this week, a letter surfaced from Mueller complaining about Barr's memo on the special counsel's findings.

House Democrats say he does.

Barr said he doesn't see "any basis" for consulting with career Justice Department ethics officials on the appropriateness of his role.

Pelosi and other leaders in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, previously had cautioned against launching the impeachment process, which would begin in the House but would face long odds of success in the Republican-controlled Senate and could alienate voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election in which Trump is seeking re-election.

The Post reports that Barr and Mueller had a phone conversation the next day in which Mueller explained that he was concerned about the media coverage of Barr's summary but also said that he did not believe the summary was "inaccurate or misleading".

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