U.S. House panel readies contempt vote against Barr over Mueller report

The letter was signed by former Justice Department prosecutors who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, including ex-U.S. attorneys and public corruption trial lawyers.

The names were organized and posted online Monday by an anti-Trump nonprofit organization called "Protect Democracy".

President Trump said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller should not testify before Congress, reversing course from his previous position that the decision is up to Attorney General William Barr.

The prosecutors, consisting of former US attorneys, Justice Department officials, lawyers, and senior Justice Department officials, cite the Mueller report, and say Trump would have been charged were it not for internal DOJ guidelines that state a president can't be prosecuted while in office.

Nadler's committee views the full Mueller report as vital to its own corruption and obstruction of justice investigation of Trump. On Friday, he said he would leave it to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether Mueller should testify.

Tension between Mr Barr and congressional Democrats is already high.

By Monday afternoon, the statement contained 387 signatures.

Proceedings could be postponed if the attorney general makes a good faith effort to comply with the committee, but that appears unlikely.


Barr also skipped a hearing before Nadler's committee last Thursday, after Democrats adopted an aggressive format that would have subjected the attorney-general to questions from staff attorneys. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said he doesn't plan to invite Mueller to testify on the report.

"Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report would... result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice", the prosecutors said.

The Justice Department has made a less redacted version available for House and Senate leaders and some committee heads, but the Democrats have said that is not enough and have so far declined to read it.

Members of Congress, namely House Democrats, have since urged Mueller to testify on his findings from the report to provide greater transparency on the Russian Federation investigation.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said Democrats needed to hear from officials beyond Barr, including former White House counsel Don McGahn.

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state", his report said. "The American people deserve the truth", he said on Twitter.

The panel has been in a weeks-long tug-of-war with the Justice Department over access to Mueller's report.

Trump showed his frustration by writing another tweet Sunday night. "Today, Trump announced he is opposed to Mueller testifying before Congress". And when that did not work, according to Mueller's report, Trump tried to have a message passed to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's authority.


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