Attorney General William Barr has warned a House committee that he could refuse to appear at Thursday’s anticipated hearing on the Justice Department’s handling of the Russia investigation if lawmakers go through with a plan to let staff lawyers question him.
Barr’s threat is a new escalation in the tension between House leaders and the Trump administration, which has vowed to resist Democratic efforts to probe more deeply into President Donald Trump’s conduct in office and his outside business dealings.
Barr is scheduled to make two appearances before Congress this week to answer questions about the special counsel investigation. The first, on Wednesday, is before the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who is leading an effort to seek a complete version of Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s completed inquiry, has proposed that Barr be questioned Thursday by committee counsels in addition to lawmakers. Nadler also said Barr should attend a separate, closed-door meeting with the panel.
Since Mueller’s report was made public earlier this month, Democrats have sought to question the attorney general about his decision to clear Trump of obstruction of justice after the special counsel’s team highlighted numerous examples in which the president attempted to limit or entirely derail Mueller’s investigation.