When Attorney General William Barr refused to show up for what technically would have been voluntary testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Democratic House leaders gave away with their words that they intended to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. But to do that, they first had to legally establish that he is in fact in contempt. That’s now in place, and this Monday is set to be a contempt of Congress circus.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced today that he’s giving William Barr until Monday to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report, knowing full well that Barr won’t do it. This represents a good faith last call as far as the Mueller report subpoena goes – and it means that Nadler will be holding the legal cards when he does hold Barr in contempt. The key here is that Nadler hasn’t just set a deadline of Monday; according to CNN, he’s set a deadline of 9:00am Monday morning.
Most of these deadlines are set for the end of the day, or the end of the business day. This deadline, set first thing Monday morning, makes clear that Nadler intends to move to contempt proceedings on Monday. This is a process that has multiple steps and is not instantaneous, but it’s now clear that the first concrete contempt steps will be taken on Monday.
Of course this is less about holding William Barr in contempt of Congress, which is a given at this point, and more about what the House Democrats decide to dish out in terms of legal consequences. Last week the news surfaced that, behind the scenes, Jerry Nadler has been working on a legal strategy for arresting and jailing any Trump officials who illegally defy subpoenas, along with hitting them with massive monetary fines. The bottom line: Barr is about to get hit hard, starting Monday morning.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report