Washington (Soomaal News): Defying the United States Congress, Attorney General William Barr will not attend a US House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday on his handling of the Mueller report, said committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, accusing Barr of being afraid to give evidence.

“Barr has just informed us that he will not attend tomorrow’s hearing,” Nadler, a Democrat, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday after a contentious Senate hearing earlier in the day where Barr defended his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia report.

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Committee Democrats have vowed to issue a subpoena in an effort to force Barr to give evidence. “We plan on subpoenaing him if he decides not to show up. He can run but he can’t hide,” Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries told reporters.

Nadler said he believed Barr was afraid to give evidence given “how dishonest he has been”.

Barr’s Department of Justice failed to hand over the unredacted version of Mueller’s report earlier on Wednesday, despite a subpoena deadline for the copy.

“The Department of Justice has also told us that they will not comply with our subpoena for the full unreduced Mueller report,” Nadler said.

Nadler issued the subpoena on April 19, a day after Barr released a redacted version of the report by Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct subsequent investigations.

The subpoena also sought underlying evidence from Mueller’s 22-month investigation.

Nadler, asked if the panel would issue a subpoena on Thursday for Barr to come before the committee, said, “The first thing is to get the unredacted report and we will negotiate on that for another day or two and if necessary … go for a contempt citation shortly thereafter. We will also start a process to get Attorney General Barr to come.” 

US Attorney General Barr defends actions after Mueller complaint

Nadler added. “I will continue to work with the attorney general to reach a reasonable accommodation on access to the full report and underlying evidence. But not for much longer.

“If good-faith negotiations don’t result in a pledge of compliance (with the subpoena) in the next day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt citation against the attorney general.”

Barr’s refusal comes after the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines on Wednesday to allow committee lawyers to question Barr during an extra hour of proceedings on Thursday. The questioning would come in addition to a traditional hearing that provides each Representative on the panel with five minutes of questions and comments.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec says committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s insistence that congressional staffers be allowed to question Barr is “inappropriate”.

Kupec says the attorney general “remains happy to engage directly” with members of the committee to answer their questions.

 Source: Aljazeera News