Barr Threatens to Refuse to Testify Before Congress This Week

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr, who is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about the special counsel’s report, is threatening to skip the session because he objects to the proposed format for questioning, a spokesman for Representative Jerrold Nadler, the committee chairman, said Sunday.

The committee will hold the hearing with or without Mr. Barr, said the spokesman, Daniel Schwarz.

In addition to allowing each member of the committee to question Mr. Barr for five minutes, Mr. Nadler, Democrat of New York, has proposed a second round of questioning for Democrats and Republicans. However, he has also proposed that staff lawyers for both sides be included in that round, which Mr. Barr opposes.

Mr. Nadler’s plan also calls for the committee to go into closed session to discuss the redacted sections of the report. But Mr. Barr and the Justice Department object to questioning behind closed doors.

“It would be a shame if Barr refused to show,” Mr. Schwarz said, “but it is important that there be a chance to ask follow-up questions, and members should not be prohibited from asking about redacted sections, which means we would need to go into executive session in order for Barr to be able to answer in a secure setting.”

Although allowing staff members to question witnesses is unusual, the committee has permitted it on several occasions in the past, under both Democratic and Republican majorities, according to Mr. Schwarz. This includes during public hearings and private transcribed interviews, like the impeachment inquiries into Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, and the Republican-led investigation into the F.B.I.’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Source link