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House judiciary committee to vote Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt
[WASHINGTON] The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, after the Justice Department appeared to miss a Monday deadline to negotiate the delivery of Robert Mueller's full report, along with key evidence collected by the special counsel.
The committee's chairman, Rep Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, said the vote would occur at 10 am. A 27-page report accompanying the vote notice Monday recommends that Barr "shall be found to be in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional subpoena."
The Democratic-controlled panel almost certainly will vote in favour of contempt unless the Justice Department meets the Democrats' demands before Wednesday. The full House would then have to hold a vote. It is unclear when that would occur.
"Although the Committee has attempted to engage in accommodations with Attorney General Barr for several months, it can no longer afford to delay, and must resort to contempt proceedings," the report submitted by Mr Nadler said.
The dispute over access to Mr Mueller's work is only one of a growing number of confrontations between House investigators and President Donald Trump and his administration that are threatening to boil over into court and stall Democratic investigations. The Treasury Department is also expected Monday to tell House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep Richard Neal, D-Mass, its reason he cannot access Mr Trump's tax returns, which Mr Neal requested under a provision in the tax code.
The Judiciary Committee had set a Monday deadline last week for the material to be handed over under a subpoena, but the Justice Department declined to meet it, citing concerns about political interference in its investigations and questioning whether the committee had a valid legislative purpose.
On Friday, Mr Nadler wrote to the attorney general a final time attempting to revive discussions and opening the door to possible concessions from Democrats.
A contempt finding would do two things for Democrats: put a mark on Barr's record and push the dispute into the courts where a judge could decide whether to force the administration to hand over the material. That could take months, affecting the pace and scope of Democratic investigations.
The committee's action has precedent. House Republicans chose to pursue contempt in 2012 when they held sparred with Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to turn over internal Justice Department documents on Fast and Furious, a botched gunrunning investigation.