The Justice Department spurned Democrats in two ways on Wednesday: First, by informing the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr would not be present for his scheduled testimony on Thursday; and secondly, by explaining that the department would not comply with Dem’s request for a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full, unredacted report.
After Barr spent five hours in a Wednesday hearing to undercut Mueller’s intentions in his investigations, the committee voted on ground rules for Thursday’s testimony, which resulted in both Democratic and Republican attorneys to question Barr over the course of an hour.
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec agreed with Barr’s decision, arguing that the conditions for Thursday’s hearing were “unprecedented and unnecessary.”
“Congress and the executive branch are co-equal branches of government, and each have a constitutional obligation to respect and accommodate one another’s legitimate interests,” Kupec added.
Other Republicans came to Barr’s defense, saying that it was “disrespectful” to have anyone but lawmakers question Barr during the hearing. Additionally, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said that the subpoena request for the unredacted Mueller report was “not legitimate oversight.”
Boyd wrote in a separate letter that Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the subpoena “knowing that the department could not lawfully provide the unredacted report, that the committee lacks any legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files, and that processing your requests would impose a significant burden on the department.”
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, also argued that Democrats are only trying to “prolong an investigation the special counsel completed.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2019
“What we have here is simply another opportunity to sidetrack and have a serial sideshow,” Collins said Wednesday when opposing the ground rules for Thursday’s hearing. “This has become nothing but theater.”
Thursday morning became even more theatrical when Rep. Steve Cohen decided to symbolically criticize Barr’s decision to not attend the hearing. As the panel waited to see if Barr would show up, Cohen dug into a bucket of KFC chicken, leaving the bucket and a ceramic chicken on Barr’s table.
Cohen’s actions resulted in a backlash on Twitter.
Judiciary Democrats say AG Barr is “terrified.” Yesterday he testified for over five hours in an open hearing.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 2, 2019
Non comprehensive list of much more pressing items Congress should address than asking Barr politically driven questions:
Rise of infanticide
Crisis at the border
China attacking US cyber
Students stuck in failing schools
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 2, 2019
Proving AG Barr made absolutely the right decision declining their invitation to perform for the circus. https://t.co/ZjXmo8FwSv
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) May 2, 2019
Radio host and political commentator Tammy Bruce tweeted what many Republicans may have been thinking about Cohen’s behavior: “Proving AG Barr made absolutely the right decision declining their invitation to perform for the circus.”
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