Updated: May 1, 2019 / 10:08 PM
Attorney General William Barr defied Congress on Thursday by deciding that he will not attend a House Judiciary Committee hearing on his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding the Russia investigation report, according to Jerrold Nadler, the Chairman of the panel. Nadler accused Barr of being afraid to testify.
“Barr has just informed us that he will not attend tomorrow’s hearing,” Nadler, a Democrat, said to reporters on Wednesday after a contentious Senate hearing that took place on Wednesday morning during which Attorney General William Barr attempted to defend his treatment of the Mueller report.
The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it would not comply with a subpoena seeking Mueller’s complete report on the Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election and the related investigative files generated from the investigation.
The Democrats from the committee pledged to issue a subpoena to oblige the Attorney General William Barr to testify, while Jerrold Nadler still had some hope that Barr would reconsider skipping the hearing and show up when the hearing takes place at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
“We plan on subpoenaing him if he decides not to show up. He can run but he can’t hide,” Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic Representative, told reporters.
A spokeswoman from the Justice Department issued a statement that the panel had placed “unprecedented and unnecessary” conditions on Barr’s testimony and classified the questions posed by the committee staff as inappropriate. “The attorney general remains happy to engage directly with members,” the statement said.
The Attorney General’s decision to skip the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday surfaced hours after the committee implemented a more aggressive format that would subject Barr to an additional hour of questions from committee lawyers, as well as further questions from Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the panel.