Situating Putin: Why He’s Not Going Away and How That Matters

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And if good- faith negotiations don't result in a pledge of compliance in the next day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt citation against the attorney general.

There are many questions that must be answered. The committee will convene at tomorrow morning, as planned. My colleagues will be present.

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I hope and expect that the attorney general will think overnight and will be there as well. Any questions? But the first thing is to get the unredacted report. And we will negotiate on that for another day or two and, if necessary -- and, remember, that was subpoenaed -- if necessary, go for a contempt citation shortly thereafter.

We will also start a process to get Attorney General Barr there. The committee has the right to determine its own procedures. The attorney general has a nerve to try to dictate and the administration has a nerve to dictate our procedures. It's simply part of the administration's complete stonewalling of Congress, period. And what the ranking members saying is that, by determining how we will proceed, we are stonewalling, as if it's our choice that he should not come. He is trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is the most effective means of eliciting the information we need.

And the Congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the administration to dictate to Congress how we operate. We have -- that's down the road. We haven't issued a subpoena for him to appear yet. We will -- we may issue a subpoena. But the first -- our first priority is to get the unredacted Mueller report.

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  • And, by the way, we're looking to get Mueller before the committee on May 15, which is another -- which is another -- which is another priority. Well, they have announced that they have no -- the department has announced they have no objection. And we're seeking to firm up the date.

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    • Do you think that's one of the reasons why he is not coming? He is terrified. He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney. The problem is, I mean, in fact, we have all seen congressional hearings. We have very talented members. They ask very good questions, but a five-minute rule is not conducive to follow-up. Now, we have seen repeatedly administration witnesses, including Attorney General Barr, spend the first four-and-a-half minutes filibustering, the second -- the last half-minute giving a non- responsive answer.


      And then it's on to the next person. It is very valuable, as any lawyer will tell you, to have somebody, in this case a staff lawyer, who can follow up, take up loose ends that were suggested by questions from members, and follow up when he gives a non-responsive answer and say, but wait a minute. You said this last week. How can you say this now? Or whatever. That's effective, the more -- the most effective way of getting at the facts and getting at the truth.

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      Thank you. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announcing, making it official, they have been told by the Justice Department the attorney general of the United States, Bill Barr, will not appear before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning at , that -- he had been scheduled to appear.

      But Nadler says -- and I'm quoting him now -- "He's terrified," referring to Barr. It's a serious development unfolding. Manu Raju, you broke the story for us just a little while ago. It's going to be a dramatic scene tomorrow morning. They're going to have this hearings. There will presumably be an empty chair.

      Barr won't be there. Then they can go and do whatever they want. And when Nadler made clear that he plans to move to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt if he does not agree to the subpoena demands that were laid out that require the Justice Department to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report, as well as the underlying evidence, that subpoena says that that information must be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee by today. According to Nadler, the administration has informed him that they will not comply with those demands.

      So Nadler made clear here, Wolf, that he's going to spend one or two more days discussing with the Justice Department what the -- about any sort of accommodation, any sort of deal that they could reach. But if they do not reach any sort of deal to the liking of Jerry Nadler, he said they're going to move to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. He also warned of a subpoena to compel Bill Barr to actually appear before the House Judiciary Committee. He didn't say that that would come necessarily tomorrow, but he did say that the subpoena would come to try to force Bill Barr to appear, and, of course, these objections all over whether or not staff attorneys could question the attorney general after members of Congress are allowed to question.

      Republicans say there's no precedent for this, to allow staff attorneys to question witnesses, particularly Cabinet officials. Democrats say there has been precedent in the past. They point to impeachment proceedings. Republicans say, well, this is not an impeachment proceeding. But, nevertheless, this squabble over process leading to a significant development here, the attorney general skipping a hearing that the Democrats had been eager to question about the Mueller investigation, his rollout, his handling of the Mueller probe, after today's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

      And now Jerry Nadler making clear, Wolf, subpoenas could be coming, contempt citation could be coming, and court action as well, if they don't get what they want -- Wolf.

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      Manu, stand by. Laura Jarrett is here. Shimon Prokupecz is here as well. Laura, you cover the Justice Department for us. You heard Jerry Nadler say that Bill Barr, the attorney general of the United States, is terrified to face a skilled lawyer who would ask tough questions nonstop for 30 minutes with a lot of follow-ups. But there are something around 30 different members on that committee who are lawyers, and they could decide to deputize one of their members, who's one of the more skilled questioners, to do the exact same thing.

      They make up the rules here. So, both sides, I think, are playing it a little bit too cute. Obviously, Bill Barr is perfectly capable of taking on staff attorney questions. Members are perfectly capable of making up their own rules.

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      There's no law that dictates five minutes only. They could situate this however they want. The real issue, I think, is just that there's been a dramatic escalation in tensions, not just over the attorney general and how he's dealing with the Judiciary Committee, but over former White House Counsel Don McGahn's testimony, other White House officials, like Carl Kline, who have to do with security clearances. There's just been this building of tension between the administration and House Democrats over a litany of issues.

      I don't think -- what we have seen from Bill Barr today, he's not afraid to answer questions. And he's not afraid to say what's on his mind, whether people agree with him or not. He gave some very interesting answers. Obviously, he knew what he was doing today. But I think Laura knows this best, that the Department of Justice is just saying, enough is enough. We're not going to let you push us around.

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      And that's ultimately, I think, what this is all about. They can't. But what's going to happen? People are defying subpoenas. They're not providing information. Who is going to hold all these people responsible for not responding to subpoenas, for not appearing before Congress? What's the recourse here? I mean, to get the contempt vote, then you have to vote on that.

      Then they have to go to court to try to enforce it. And they have to decide, is it criminal, is it civil? I mean, this is going to drag out for weeks and potentially months on end. This is not going to be a quick resolution. Meanwhile, you heard him suggest there that we could see Mueller as soon as May That was the first time I think we had heard that date as firmly as Jerry Nadler put it there.

      It will be the first time we have heard from him in God knows how many years at this point. So we will see whether he actually shows up on that date.