The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee voted earlier today to allow the committee’s staff attorneys to question A.G. Barr in his scheduled appearance on Thursday.
Democrats led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) want staff to conduct additional questioning of Barr after members conclude their rounds at his testimony. Such a measure throws the fate of the hearing into uncertainty, since the Justice Department has rebuffed the proposed interview format.
Those in favor of the motion argue that the committee’s staff are experts who will be able to press Barr on questions they otherwise might have missed, while opponents say that the proposal would be asking too much of the attorney general.
Why can’t the members, many of whom are lawyers, ask questions to the A.G. themselves?
“Committee staff questioning has long been an important, if underutilized, aspect of Congressional oversight that is in accordance with House rules and past precedent,” Nadler said in his opening remarks.
“Some have expressed the concern that it is somehow inappropriate for Committee staff to question a sitting Attorney General. There is ample House precedent, however, for Committee staff to question sitting cabinet level and Senate-confirmed officials during a hearing,” continued Nadler.
Barr has refused to appear before committee with a tag team of lawyers waiting on the sidelines.
“The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress,” a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Kerri Kupec, said Sunday. “Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning. He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report.”
Will Barr show up to the hearing or will the committee back down from its plan to have staff counsel question Barr? Stay tuned and stay tuned to see if Nadler and the committee issues a subpoena to Barr.
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