Attorney General William Barr refused to endure a second round of questioning on the Mueller report Thursday, so key professional Democratic legislator Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) decided to note his absence by engaging in a series of demonstrations involving chicken.
Get it? Because Barr was too “chicken” to face an all-Democrat House Judiciary Committee panel?
Cohen entered the 9 a.m. conference with two props: a plastic chicken statue and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Cohen tore into a “large piece of fried poultry,” according to Fox News, at his desk, just as his fellow committee members were taking their seats.
.@RepCohen eats chicken during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in which Attorney General Barr, who he called today “#ChickenBarr,” was supposed to attend. https://t.co/ZcvGtfCcIz pic.twitter.com/lR3bVf1U2c
— The Hill (@thehill) May 2, 2019
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 2, 2019
Cohen did not keep all the chicken for himself. He did offer drumsticks to a couple of female aides seated in front of him.
Later, at an impromptu press conference, Cohen brandished the plastic chicken for reporters, explaining that: “Chicken Barr should have shown up today and answered questions … this man was picked to be Donald Trump’s fixer. The black socks look clean compared to this team. It’s a sad day in America.”
Cohen eventually put the chicken down behind AG William Barr’s name placard at the congressional witness table for a photo opportunity.
— Trish Zornio (@trish_zornio) May 2, 2019
Thanks to Cohen’s efforts, “#ChickenBarr” began trending on Twitter, as progressive social media activists caught on to the joke.
Other legislators, including Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who called the hearing, chose to leave their mark on Barr in other ways. Nadler gave a speech to Barr’s empty chair (sans plastic chicken), berating him for failing to appear and connecting Barr’s decision not to testify to further, secretive Trump administration policies.
Barr said Wednesday that he would not attend the House hearings on Thursday after a dispute with Democrats over whether committee staff members and outside legal counsel, rather than legislators themselves, should be allowed to question the acting Attorney General, according to CNN. The Attorney General’s office also refused to turn over a full, unredacted version of the Mueller report to Nadler and other Democratic legislators, despite a subpoena.
Nadler has said repeatedly that he will not be satisfied until he obtains a full, clean version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and a copy of the evidence Mueller used to come to the conclusion that President Donald Trump and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign did not collude with Russian officials to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
On Wednesday, Barr spent hours in front of a Senate committee where, instead of being questioned on the content of Mueller’s report, he was repeatedly interrogated over a letter, issued in early April, describing the contents of Mueller’s report as clearing the president of collusion charges. Democrats were focused on how Barr characterized the report, despite having actual copies of the report in hand.
Nadler did promise retribution for Barr’s absence, telling reporters ominously that House Democrats “will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith. If he does not provide this committee with the information it demands and the respect it deserves, Mr. Barr’s moment of accountability will come soon enough.”