House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Monday scheduled a vote for later this week to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not turning over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full unredacted report.
Nadler, D-N.Y., had imposed a deadline of Monday morning at 9 a.m. EST for Barr to provide the committee with a version of Mueller’s nearly 500-page report without redactions.
“Even in redacted form, the Special Counsel’s report offers disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels. Congress must see the full report and underlying evidence to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation, and other constitutional responsibilities,” Nadler said in a statement on Monday.
“The Attorney General’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report. If the Department presents us with a good faith offer for access to the full report and the underlying evidence, I reserve the right to postpone these proceedings,” he added.
The vote is slated for Wednesday, May 8 at 10 a.m. During congressional contempt proceedings, committee members would debate and vote on the contempt resolution and report, and if passed, would move to the floor for a full House vote to authorize legal proceedings.
In response, a Justice Department spokesperson said that they are still willing to "accommodate" congressional requests for information, while also criticizing Nadler for "refusing even to read the minimally-redacted version" of Mueller's report, and for "imposing novel and unreasonable terms" for Barr's testimony before the committee.
“The Attorney General has taken extraordinary steps to accommodate the House Judiciary Committee’s requests for information regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation. But to date, Chairman Nadler has not reciprocated," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday. "Despite this, the Attorney General will continue to engage in good faith with Congress on these issues. The Committee was informed over the weekend that the Department of Justice would be responding today. The Department’s letter invites Committee staff to come to the Department on Wednesday to discuss a mutually acceptable accommodation."
She added: "The Department remains willing to accommodate Congress’s legitimate needs, but must do so consistent with the law.”
Meanwhile, committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., said Monday that the move to schedule a vote to hold Barr in contempt was "illogical and disingenuous."
"Chairman Nadler knows full subpoena compliance requires Attorney General Barr to break the law. Yet, instead of introducing legislation allowing the attorney general to provide Congress grand jury material, Democrats move to hold him in contempt," Collins said in a statement Monday. "They know the Justice Department is working to negotiate even as they pursue contempt charges, making their move today illogical and disingenuous. Democrats have launched a proxy war smearing the attorney general when their anger actually lies with the president and the special counsel, who found neither conspiracy nor obstruction."
The move comes after a stalemate between the Justice Department and congressional Democrats over Mueller's full report, and over Barr's failure to appear for a scheduled hearing before the committee last week after disagreements in the format of the hearing. Democrats on the committee wanted to have committee staff question Barr. The Justice Department, instead, wanted members to do the questioning. The committee and the Justice Department ended up at a stalemate—Barr did not appear, and the committee held a meeting with an empty witness chair.
Democrats have blasted Barr for weeks over his handling of the special counsel's report. Barr, first, released an initial four-page summary of Mueller's findings, announcing in late March that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller was also leading an inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice--a matter on which Mueller did not come to a conclusion.
Barr, in reviewing the report, said the evidence found in the investigation was not sufficient to charge the president with an obstruction of justice offense.
Barr has also been hit for his rollout of the full report, which he released to the public and to Congress last month. The report had redactions over sensitive sources and methods, grand jury material, and other areas to protect the reputational interests of "peripheral players" in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the committee has also scheduled a hearing tentatively set for May 15, when Mueller himself will testify before the panel.
Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.