What is the attorney general so afraid of?
Attorney General William P. Barr has been under fire from former colleagues, legal experts, Democrats and anyone else who has taken the time to compare Barr’s initial letter about the Mueller report and his news conference against the actual report. He has been accused of misstating the reason that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not reach a prosecutorial decision on obstruction, of wrongfully inserting himself to make the call that Mueller would not and of refusing to put forth an unredacted version of the report.
But that criticism is nothing compared with the derision that will rain down upon him should he refuse to show up, as he previously promised, to be questioned by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Post reports:
Justice Department officials have threatened that Barr may not appear for the hearing under such conditions, while House Democratic staffers have countered that the attorney general may be subpoenaed if he refuses.
The Democratic members of the committee and their staff are as puzzled as anyone why Barr should be throwing a fit over the identity of the questioner. While unusual, allowing counsel to question a witness is hardly unheard of. Indeed, last year Senate Republicans deployed anoutside counsel to question now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
“The Attorney General of the United States should be capable of appearing on Capitol Hill and responding to any questions,” says former prosecutor Joyce Vance White. “It is, after all, their Constitutional duty to engage in oversight and his to participate in the process. But this Attorney General is so mired in politics and party that he seems to have forgotten about country.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, is prepared to call Barr’s bluff, according to a source familiar with his thinking. “It’s none of the business of a witness to try to dictate to a congressional committee what our procedures for questioning him are,” Nadler told The Post. “It’s not up to anybody from the executive branch to tell the legislative branch how to do our business.”
Democrats believe that Barr has backed himself into a corner, hoping to bully the committee (a tactic perfectly attuned to his boss, President Trump). They are determined not to let him get away with it. If he doesn’t show up, a subpoena will be forthcoming and then a vote on contempt if he does not appear.