WASHINGTON: A US House panel was poised to vote on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena that demanded the full, unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The House Judiciary Committee was set to meet at 10 am EDT (1400 GMT) and vote on a resolution recommending that the full House of Representatives find Barr in contempt of Congress.
Panel staff and Justice Department officials worked behind the scenes in the hopes of a deal to avert the proceedings.
The fight over the complete report is just one battle amid a growing struggle between President Donald Trump and the Democrats investigating him, his business interests and administration, that seems to be destined for the courts, presenting political risks for both sides ahead of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections.
Late on Tuesday, the Justice Department threatened to call on Trump to invoke executive privilege to completely withhold the unredacted report from Congress if House Democrats pushed ahead.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler blasted the department for abruptly breaking off “good faith negotiations” to invoke such privilege and said its legal arguments lacked “credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.”
“This kind of obstruction is dangerous,” Nadler said in a statement late on Tuesday. Nadler had earlier told reporters the panel would still meet as planned for the vote.
Barr released a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his 22-month investigation into Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Nadler subpoenaed the full document and underlying evidence, saying the material was necessary for lawmakers to determine whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to upend the Mueller probe. Barr missed two subpoena deadlines for turning over the material, the latest on Monday.
“We remain unanimously determined on our side of the aisle to get the unredacted report, as we’ve demanded,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat on Nadler’s committee, told reporters.