Politics

House to vote next week on holding William Barr and Donald McGahn in contempt

A name placard is displayed for former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who is not expected to appear
A name placard for former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who did not appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing May 21.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

A top Democrat announced Monday that the House will vote next week on whether to hold Atty. Gen. William Barr and former White House Counsel Donald McGahn in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement that the Trump administration’s “systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people.”

The resolution scheduled for a June 11 floor vote will allow the Judiciary Committee to pursue civil action to seek enforcement of its subpoenas in federal court, Hoyer said. The House Judiciary Committee voted last month to hold Barr in contempt after he refused to turn over an unredacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia report. McGahn, one of the most-cited witnesses in the report, has been directed by the White House to defy the judiciary panel’s subpoenas for documents and testimony.

The move comes as Democrats face increased pressure from some of their members to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Some Democrats at a leadership meeting late Monday indicated they welcomed the contempt vote, according to people familiar with the private session, though it is unlikely to quell calls for impeachment hearings against Trump.

More than 40 House Democrats have called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to start impeachment proceedings, which would make it easier for them to compel document production and testimony. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far rejected that option, preferring a slower, more methodical approach to investigating the president.

As part of that effort, Nadler said Monday that his panel will hold a series of hearings on “the alleged crimes and other misconduct” in Mueller’s report, starting with a hearing June 10, the day before the contempt votes, on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. The hearing will feature John Dean, who was White House counsel for President Nixon, and former U.S. attorneys.

The hearings will serve as a stand-in of sorts for Mueller himself, who made clear in public comments last week that he does not want to appear before Congress and would not elaborate on the contents of his report if he were forced to testify. Democrats have suggested they will compel Mueller’s appearance if necessary, but it’s unclear when — or whether — that will happen. Negotiations over Mueller’s testimony are ongoing.