House Democrats have officially introduced a resolution to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrNadler: ‘It may very well come to’ opening a formal impeachment inquiry Nadler: ‘It may very well come to’ opening a formal impeachment inquiry Judge says he’s not ready to rule on new claims about census citizenship question MORE and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.
The contempt resolution allows House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler: ‘It may very well come to’ opening a formal impeachment inquiry Nadler: ‘It may very well come to’ opening a formal impeachment inquiry Overnight Health Care: ‘Medicare for All’ gets boost from high-ranking Democrat | Anti-abortion group vows to spend M in 2020 election | Dems make Medicaid center of Kentucky governor fight MORE (D-N.Y.) to go to court to seek civil enforcement of the subpoena for Barr to turn over special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff says Intel panel will hold ‘series’ of hearings on Mueller report Schiff says Intel panel will hold ‘series’ of hearings on Mueller report Key House panel faces pivotal week on Trump MORE’s unredacted report and underlying evidence, as well as for McGahn to provide documents and public testimony.
The resolution also gives any committee chair the rare power to go to federal court to seek civil enforcement of subpoenas, both current and future orders, so long as they are granted approval by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
The House Rules Committee is expected to mark up the resolution to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt on Monday, according to a Democratic congressional aide, and the full House is slated to vote on the resolution Tuesday.
The measure, introduced by Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), comes as Democrats accuse the White House of unprecedented efforts to stonewall their legitimate investigations into President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi privately told Democrats she wants Trump ‘in prison’: report Pelosi privately told Democrats she wants Trump ‘in prison’: report Warren invokes Obama, Trump when asked about electability MORE and his administration. The White House has accused Democrats of trying to score political points against Trump ahead of the 2020 election.
Nadler subpoenaed Barr for the full Mueller report in April following its release. The Justice Department has so far refused to turn over the full report and underlying evidence, arguing that doing so would amount to Barr violating the law by releasing grand jury material and compromising ongoing investigations.
Instead, Barr has offered for a select group of lawmakers, including Nadler, to view a less-redacted version of the report provided they keep its contents confidential. Democrats have rejected this arrangement as too limited.
The fight reached a fever pitch last month, as the Judiciary panel voted along party lines to hold Barr in contempt and Trump asserted executive privilege over the subpoenaed materials on the attorney general’s recommendation.
Separately, the committee had subpoenaed McGahn for documents and public testimony, but he has refused to comply on instructions from the White House.
McGahn didn’t show up for a public hearing on May 21 after Trump told him not to testify, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that the former official is immune from compelled congressional testimony.
The plans to vote on the resolution mark a dramatic escalation in Democrats’ battle with the Trump administration.
Democratic aides describe the resolution as a powerful expression to the courts about the White House refusing to comply with their “reasonable” requests and an effort to enforce subpoenas across the board. While it is also a move that reaffirms the current rules, rather than changing them, it comes as Congress has pivoted to holding Barr in criminal contempt of Congress.
The aides emphasized that the case could potentially unlock many doors for the investigation if a judge rules the White House cannot assert absolute immunity from its officials testifying. If the judge makes a ruling that McGahn must testify, the aides said, it could also unblock the testimony of other officials that the White House has sought to stop from testifying.
Though the measure deals with civil contempt, a Democratic aide also noted that if Democrats come across behavior that is “egregious enough,” there may be additional criminal contempt proceedings.