US House to vote next week on whether to find Attorney-General William Barr in contempt

The Judiciary Committee in the United States House of Representatives had earlier voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election i
The Judiciary Committee in the United States House of Representatives had earlier voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The full US House of Representatives will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney-General William Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena seeking the full, unredacted report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Monday (June 3).

"Next Tuesday, I will bring a resolution to the House floor forcing Attorney-General Barr and former White House counsel (Don) McGahn to comply with congressional subpoenas that have been duly issued by the House Judiciary Committee," Mr Hoyer said in a statement.

"The resolution will authorise the Judiciary Committee to pursue civil action to seek enforcement of its subpoenas in federal court," Mr Hoyer said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.

The House move escalated the fight between the Republican White House and Democrats who control the House and are seeking documents and testimony relating to various investigations, ahead of the 2020 presidential election in which President Donald Trump is seeking a second term.

Democrats had also subpoenaed Mr McGahn to testify before the Judiciary Committee last month, but he did not appear after the White House directed him not to comply.

The Judiciary Committee in the Democratic-led House voted on May 8 to hold Mr Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

The panel voted to recommend that the full House cite Mr Barr, the top US law enforcement official and an appointee of Mr Trump, for contempt of Congress after he defied its subpoena to produce the complete report and underlying evidence.

Mr McGahn, who left his post as White House counsel last year, figured prominently in Mr Mueller’s report, which cited him as saying that Mr Trump called him several times to tell him to direct the Justice Department to remove Mr Mueller.

"This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people," Mr Hoyer said in his statement.

A redacted 448-page version of Mr Mueller's report released in April concluded that Russian operatives sought to influence the US presidential election in 2016, but it did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Mr Trump's campaign and Russia.

The report did, however, document numerous occasions in which Mr Trump sought to quash the probe, including by firing former FBI Director James Comey. But Mr Mueller ultimately did not reach a decision as to whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice.

 

Since the Mueller report became public, the Trump administration has clashed repeatedly with the Democratic-controlled House over its continuing efforts under the US Constitution to investigate him, his administration, family and business interests.

The Judiciary Committee said earlier on Monday it would hold a hearing on June 10 on Mueller’s report, with testimony from former US attorneys and legal experts, including Mr John Dean.

The Trump critic and one-time counsel to former President Richard Nixon served a year in prison in connection with the Watergate scandal.