The House Judiciary Committee has now received word that Trump Attorney General Bill Barr is refusing to appear at tomorrow’s planned hearing before the committee. This will now likely kick off committee deliberations over whether to hold Barr in contempt.
At issue is a Barr objection to an extended format that would allow committee lawyers to ask questions, rather than fielding questions only from House members themselves. Designated questioners are sometimes used in House and Senate hearings when the subject matter is complex or to better focus questioning in matters of great importance: It was the approach taken by Senate Republicans in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Barr’s team, however, has insisted that such questioning would be somehow improper.
Barr’s performance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today may also have re-emphasized to Barr’s team the danger that more focused questioning may pose to the already-teetering attorney general.
Committee chair Jerry Nadler has indicated that he will continue to negotiate with Barr, but will move to hold Barr in contempt if an agreement is not made in the next two days. The committee hearing will be convened as planned, whether Barr shows up or not.
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