Barr warns House Dems he might not appear at hearing

Barr's testimony to House on Mueller in doubt amid dispute

Barr warns House Dems he might not appear at hearing

The Justice Department has informed the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr may not attend a Thursday hearing to review special counsel Robert Mueller's report due to objections over the panel's questioning format.

Per the source, Nadler wants all committee members to have five minutes of questioning each, and also for each party's counsels to be able to participate during an additional 30 minutes of questioning per side.

That's also according to the aide, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential communications with the justice department.

But Democrats believe Barr, as the committee's witness, should not dictate the parameters of the hearing, scheduled for Thursday morning.

Barr has opposed the additional round of questioning, CNN first reported.

Fox News reported that it remains unusual for committee counsels to question witnesses; however, Senate Republicans past year hired an outside prosecutor to question Christine Blasey Ford, who accused then-Supreme Court justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault back in the 1980s.

House Democrats have subpoenaed the Justice Department for the unredacted version of the Mueller report and underlying material gathered from the investigation. "Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning", the Department of Justice said in a statement.

It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness, but committees can generally make their own rules and other panels have made similar exceptions. The committee's chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Barr must answer questions about the four-page summary and how it measures up to the full report.

The Democratic aide said there was precedent for committee staff to question Cabinet-level officials and Senate-confirmed officials, citing political scandals including the Watergate break-in of the 1970s and the Iran-Contra scandal of 1987.

It's back to business this week in Washington after members of Congress spent more than two weeks at home since the release of the Mueller report. A televised hearing is seen among lawmakers are their opportunity to hold Barr to account and make their case to the American people.

House Judiciary Committee Republicans chided Nadler's fight with Barr. Democrats have slammed Barr's handling of the end of the Mueller investigation, accusing him of releasing a letter that mischaracterized Mueller's findings on both collusion and obstruction and raising suspicions over his decision not to prosecute Trump after Mueller did not reach a conclusion on Trump.

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