Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the first chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, slammed House Democrats during a hearing on May 8 in which the committee debated whether to hold Attorney General William Barr would be held in contempt of Congress. The committee vote was 24-16 along party lines in favor of holding Barr in contempt.
The primary issue has been Barr’s refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena to release the full, unredacted Mueller report. He had also been scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 2 about the report. But Barr failed to appear after the committee voted to have staff lawyers ask questions.
In response to Barr ignoring the subpoena, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for a vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. Rep. Jordan strongly argued against this and accused Democrats of trying to “destroy” the attorney general.
Jordan told the committee, “Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his reward? Democrats are going to hold him in contempt. I don’t think today is actually about getting information. I don’t think it’s about getting the unredacted Mueller report. I don’t think last week’s hearing was actually about having staff question the attorney general. I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous he’s going to get to the bottom of everything. He’s going to find out how and why this investigation started in the first place.” You can watch Jordan’s full statement in the CSPAN video embedded above.
Here’s what you need to know.
Rep. Jordan Referenced Bill Barr’s Assertion That Law Enforcement Had ‘Spied’ on the Trump Campaign & Claimed That Democrats Were ‘Nervous’ Of What Barr Would Find in an Investigation
Attorney General Bill Barr told a Senate appropriations subcommittee in April that he believed that government officials had engaged in spying against the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. He did not provide specific details as to how he had arrived at that conclusion. Democrats criticized Barr’s use of the word “spying” and FBI Director Christopher Wray also said that he would not use the same terminology. Wray told the same Senate subcommittee on May 7, “the FBI is engaged in investigative activity and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes. To me, the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book consistent with our lawful authorities.”
Rep. Jordan spoke at length about Barr’s statement about surveillance against the Trump campaign. He also accused Democrats of being afraid that Barr would discover that the probes into the Trump campaign and the Russia investigation had been politically motivated.
In his statement in the Judiciary Committee hearing, Jordan talked about the dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele and accused the FBI of using the document as the basis for a warrant to look into the Trump campaign. Steele was hired by research firm Fusion GPS in 2016 to investigate alleged ties between Trump and Russia.
Jordan also spoke about former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Strzok had been a senior member in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and was part of the Russia investigation. Strzok and Page came under scrutiny for exchanging text messages during the campaign that were critical of Donald Trump. In one exchange, Strzok wrote to Page that they would “stop” Trump from becoming president. Jordan stated that this was part of what Barr wanted to investigate.
President Trump Has Asserted Executive Privilege Over the Unredacted Mueller Report
President Trump has used his authority to try to keep the full Mueller report from being released to Congress. He asserted executive privilege on May 8 to keep the unredacted document private.
Judiciary Chairman Nadler, cited by the New York Times, said of this move, “In the coming days, I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless administration. The committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover-up.” CBS News quoted Nadler as saying at the beginning of the May 8 hearing that the move was a “clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance” of congressional authority and that the “information we are requesting is entirely in our legal right to receive.”
Fox News Judicial Analyst: President Trump & William Barr Can’t Stop Robert Mueller From Testifying Before Congress
Special Counsel Robert Mueller could potentially testify before Congress about the findings of his two-year investigation. A tentative date was set for May 15.
Barr could potentially try to block Mueller from testifying because as the head of the Justice Department, he is Mueller’s supervisor. But ABC News, citing a “source familiar with the attorney general’s thinking,” reported that Barr has no intention of trying to block Mueller from testifying. That’s despite President Trump’s tweets stating that he feels congressional Democrats should not be able to question Mueller.
But Fox News judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano brought up another key point in this debate. If the administration did try to stop Mueller from testifying, all Mueller would have to do is resign as a Justice Department employee. The administration cannot block a private citizen from appearing before Congress.
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