WASHINGTON—House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler rejected the Justice Department’s demand that the House cancel an upcoming contempt vote against Attorney General Bill Barr and it looks like he is ready to take AG Barr to court well after any contempt vote.
The DOJ previously told Nadler that his Committee in a May 24th letter to the Department, the “appears to recognize that the Subpoena is unworkably overbroad and offers for the first time to narrow the Subpoena’s scope to cover a much more limited set of documents.”
The Justice Department went on to say the committee’s new offer “reflects a more reasonable request and could mitigate some of the legal barriers to disclosure that we have discussed.”
“There is simply no justification for your unilateral refusal to participate in the accommodation process yet again…”
The DOJ told Nadler the department was ready to resume negotiations with his committee about accommodation of its narrowed Subpoena, but the Committee must take “reasonable steps to restore the status quo ante by mooting its May 8 vote and removing any threat of an imminent vote by the House of Representatives to hold the Attorney General in contempt.”
The letter pointed to the Fast and Furious contempt vote in the House against Obama Attorney General Eric Holder as historical precedent. :
“The Committee held its contempt vote only 19 days after issuing the subpoena. Traditionally, Congressional committees have only proceeded with contempt votes after lengthy periods of negotiations have failed to reach an accommodation.”
“For example, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee negotiated with the Department over the Operation Fast and Furious subpoena for months, and only voted to cite Attorney General Holder for contempt 252 days after issuing its subpoena.”
“That same committee waited 325 days after an initial subpoena before voting to hold in contempt former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner. Since 1975, committees and subcommittees have averaged 103 days between issuing a subpoena to an executive branch official and holding a contempt vote. By any measure, the Committee rushed its decision and bears responsibility for the termination of the accommodation process.”
Nadler, however, took exception with the Justice Department’s characterization of the process.
In his letter to the DOJ, he referenced the House Oversight Committee’s court case, related to Fast Furious documents, against former Attorney General Holder.
He stated, “As you know, accommodation by both sides, Congress and the Executive, is required irrespective of the stage of proceedings. Indeed, the accommodation has been urged by the courts well after the House has voted on contempt and litigation has begun.”
Nadler added, “There is simply no justification for your unilateral refusal to participate in the accommodation process yet again.”
Although Republicans never enforced the contempt charge against Holder in 2012, Democrats claim their threats, that could include jail time and fines, will not be so empty against Barr or anyone else who does not comply with their subpoenas.
“We have the power to fine. We have the power to apprehend and arrest until people comply with our orders,” Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told reporters Tuesday night.