With Democrats ready to cite newly appointed and hand picked Attorney General William Barr for contempt for his failure to deliver the unredacted Mueller report, prepare for some high pitched Republican histrionics as they attempt to shield this president from Congress knowing the extent of his contacts with Russia.
The Mueller report is no typical partisan bickering, it’s about a now president accepting and encouraging a foreign attack on the very idea of free and fair elections, which is to say an attack on democracy itself.
The Mueller report detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Moscow. It also showed that the Trump campaign knew and expected it would benefit from Russia’s actions, including hacking and propaganda to help Trump and harm Hillary Clinton. It also showed the many ways Trump obstructed justice by trying to stop the investigation and impede it by not testifying, by asking other witnesses to not testify or provide materials, and the many public displays of intimidation this president engaged in to signal to potential witnesses that he didn’t want them telling the truth to investigators.
Only two lawmakers have seen the unredacted report.
In contrast, there’s that time Republican Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who is on the Committee on the Judiciary, cited an Attorney General for contempt, without proper authorization, over Navy shipyard contracts.
No, I’m not kidding.
“With much regret and with much genuine surprise that no accommodation was even offered by the Department of Justice, we have no choice but to find the Attorney General in contempt,” Grassley said in 1984 during a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee’s finance subcommittee. This was flagged by Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis on Twitter Monday morning.
The New York Times reported then,
Senator Charles E. Grassley signed today a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General William French Smith for failure to turn over files on an investigation into Navy shipbuilding.
But the Justice Department and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately questioned the procedural correctness of the move by Mr. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee.
The citation was called out of place by the DOJ because because “Mr. Grassley was not acting at a session of the Judiciary panel that he heads. The senator is chairman of the subcommittee on administrative practice and procedure.”
“Even if the validity of the resolution is sustained, there are a number of procedural steps that must be followed before the Attorney General could be tried for contempt in a courtroom. These include adoption of the resolution by the full Judiciary Committee and by a vote on the Senate floor.”
Unlike Grassley, Democrats are going by procedure, much to the dissatisfaction of their base. House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday at 10 AM ET. Members of the committee will debate and vote on a contempt resolution against Barr and a report of contempt.
Well, procedures are for Democrats, just like laws and being held accountable for private email servers and not taking help from a hostile foreign government.
So contempt was good enough over cost overruns for a Navy contract, but not okay over the Trump administrations’ refusal to turn over the unredacted Mueller report, which was intended for Congress to see so that Congress can perform its Constitutional duty over oversight and protect us from this authoritarian coup.
This is more than the usual political hypocrisy. Republicans have reached an alarming level of unwillingness to perform their sworn duty to defend this country.
You can read the redacted version here.
Obstruction of justice is a crime and one does not need to be found guilty of the original crime in order to be guilty of obstruction.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.