Attorney General Bill Barr declined a request to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) confirmed to reporters Wednesday evening.
Barr has attempted to dictate the conditions of his appearance before the House committee, refusing to appear if he was to face questioning from staff attorneys, and not only members of Congress.
The committee — chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) — voted on Wednesday to allow extra time during Barr’s appearance for the additional questioning.
The move has set up a showdown between House Judiciary and the Justice Department. Nadler previously threatened to subpoena Barr if he does not appear, while the Washington Post cited an unnamed DOJ official as saying that “members are the ones who do the questioning.”
In a press conference on Wednesday evening, Nadler hit the Trump administration for its “complete stonewalling” of Congress’ attempts at oversight.
Nadler confirms that AG Bill Barr will not attend hearing before House Judiciary Committee on Thursday pic.twitter.com/bAVKsoKHQT
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 1, 2019
“[Barr] has tried to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is the most effective means of eliciting the information we need,” Nadler said. “I hope the attorney general will think overnight and will be there as well.”
“I can understand why he is afraid of facing more effective examination,” Nadler added.
In a statement, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said Nadler’s “insistence on having staff question the Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, is inappropriate.”
“Further,” Kupec said, “in light of the fact that the majority of the House Judiciary Committee – including Chairman Nadler – are themselves attorneys, and the Chairman has the ability and authority to fashion the hearing in a way that allows for efficient and thorough questioning by the Members themselves, the Chairman’s request is also unnecessary.”
House Judiciary representatives did not immediately reply to requests for comment.