Following his damning testimony on Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Attorney General William Barr admitted that he had declared President Trump innocent of obstruction of justice without reading any of the underlying evidence in the Mueller report, he failed to show up for testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Trump has already determined that people within his administration would not be required to comply with subpoenas or testimony because Congress is too partisan, effectively cutting off the ability of our legislative branch to conduct oversight of the executive office and creating an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
Barr’s failure to appear did not go over well with the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who gave an impassioned speech on where the committee would go from here.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, the challenge we face is that the president of the United States wants desperately to prevent Congress, a co-equal branch of government, from providing any check whatsoever to even his most reckless decisions. He is trying to render Congress inert as a separate and co-equal branch of government. The challenge we face is that if we don’t stand up to him together today, we risk forever losing the power to stand up to any president in the future. The very system of government of the United States, the system of limited power, the system of not having a president as a dictator is very much at stake.
‘The Attorney General of the United States is sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer. He has a responsibility to warn the president of the damage he risks, the liability he assumes, by directly threatening our system of checks and balances. Sadly, the attorney general has failed in that responsibility. He has failed to check the president’s worst instincts. He has not only misrepresented the findings of the special counsel, he has failed to protect the special counsel’s investigation from unfair political attacks. He has himself unfairly attacked the special counsel’s investigation. He has failed the men and women of the Department of Justice by placing the needs of the president over the fair administration of justice…’
The next step, Rep. Nadler said, was to hold the attorney general in contempt for refusing to comply. Barr’s basis for not appearing was that Democrats were ignoring the hearing rules by planning to have him answer questions of the committee’s lawyers instead of congressional members, which would have satisfied Trump’s complaints that committee members are too partisan.
‘We 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, but the attorney general must make a choice. Every one of us must make the same choice. That choice is now an obligation of our office. The choice is simple, we can stand up to this president in defense of the country and the Constitution and the liberty we love, or we can let the moment pass us by. We have seen in other countries what happens when you allow such moments to pass by.”
‘I do not know what Attorney General Barr will choose. I do not know what my Republican colleagues will choose. But I am certain that there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger to our constitutional order…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.’
See his speech in the video below:
Trump supporting members of Congress complained bitterly, saying that Democrats were treating them unfairly now that they are the minority members of Congress.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) said that Republicans, when they were the majority members of the House, treated Democrats much more fairly and that the Democrats were trampling on “minority rights” by promising to hold Barr in contempt. Nadler quickly shut that down.
‘We didn’t choose not to have Mr. Barr come. He chose.’
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) interjected and interrupted repeatedly, asking for a chance to speak, presumably to complain more about the questioning that had been planned.
‘If it’s going to be, Mr. Chairman, that there is not going to be a recognition of members who seek legitimate inquiry as to the procedures…’
Instead of listening to more of Trump’s supporters complaints, Nadler ended the hearing and Gaetz’s microphone was cut off.
See video of Gaetz’s attempts to derail the committee hearing below:
Featured image screenshot via YouTube