Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, if he were a member of the House, would vote in favor of holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt, The Hill reports. Sanders expressed his thoughts following Barr choosing not to report to his scheduled appearance before the House. After appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where he was aggressively questioned by Democrats on his handling of the Mueller report, Barr cited his objection to being questioned by staff counsel instead of by House members only as his reason for choosing not to appear.
Previously Sanders had not come out strongly on calls for Barr to resign based on his handling of the report, but Barr’s refusal to appear before the Democrat-controlled House seems to have influenced his thinking.
“We had an attorney general of the United States who refused to come to a hearing that the House Judiciary Committee called,” Sanders said.
“If I were a member of the House, I would vote to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt. He was asked to testify, he refused to testify, he refused to provide the information that the House wanted, and that is unacceptable.”
The remarks were made on Saturday during a town hall meeting in Perry, Iowa.
Sanders is far from the only one of President Donald Trump’s political opponents who has taken a hard stance on Barr’s conduct with respect to the Mueller report. As Law and Crime reports, Representatives Kathleen Rice and Ted Lieu have jointly requested that the bar associations of Virginia and Washington, D.C. open a “professional review” of the attorney general.
“While it would be despicable enough if the Attorney General had thus mischaracterized the report, we now have evidence he appears to have lied to Congress twice about the extent of his knowledge of the Special Counsel’s reaction to Barr’s mischaracterization and support – or lack thereof – for his conclusions,” Rice and Lieu wrote in the letter.
Aside from the competing specters of disbarment and being held in contempt, Barr could feasibly face perjury charges in response to statements he made during the Senate hearing which he attended this week.
Barr, in his testimony under oath, said that he was not aware if Special Counsel Robert Mueller supported Barr’s characterization of his report’s conclusions in a summary Barr produced of the report. Later, it became clear that Mueller had indeed expressed concerns, articulated in a letter expressly stating that Mueller felt Barr has mischaracterized the findings in the report.
“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller’s letter said.
If pursued, this contradiction could amount to lying to Congress, a potentially impeachable offense for Barr.