AG William Barr Warns He May Not Appear at House Judiciary Hearing Over Format Dispute

Attorney General William Barr has warned the House Democrats that he may not appear before the House Judiciary Committee as scheduled this week if the committee plans to move forward with its proposed questioning format, a senior Democratic committee aide confirmed to HuffPost.

The Justice Department allegedly took issue with the committee’s plan to allow committee counsels for each party to question Barr for 30 minutes each following a period of traditional questioning by the panel’s members, CNN first reported Sunday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has also proposed having the committee entering a closed session to discuss redacted sections of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, The Hill reports. Justice officials allegedly pushed back on this proposal as well.

Mueller’s report did not find evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia ahead of the 2016 presidential election but noted that the campaign felt it could benefit from the interference. Mueller did, however, outline instances where he felt the president had obstructed justice.

Barr held a press conference immediately before releasing the report and has been accused of misrepresenting the report’s findings.

“The executive session is a right we always preserve if there are questions that need to be asked in a secure setting,” the aide told HuffPost. “It is not a guarantee that we would go into executive session, only if the answers from Barr need a secure setting to be given.”

It is possible for Barr to reach an agreement with the committee prior to the scheduled hearing Thursday.

Barr is also set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where the Republican-led committee is expected to subject Barr to a traditional round of questioning.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he has “heard all I need to know” about the report, and instead, wants to dig into the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.

“I think the idea that this president obstructed justice is absurd,” Graham told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I can’t think of one thing that President Trump did to stop Mueller from doing his job.”

Later on the show, Graham said, “Here’s what I care about: Was Mueller allowed to do his job? And the answer is yes.”