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House to vote on holding Barr and McGahn in contempt

House Democrats plan contempt votes
House Democrats plan contempt votes on Barr, McGahn 02:38

The full House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas. The measure, introduced in the House Rules Committee Thursday, would also authorize House lawyers to seek enforcement of those subpoenas in court. The Rules Committee introduced the resolution Thursday. 

Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said, "We will not allow this president and his administration to turn a blind eye to the rule of law," and went on to accuse the administration of "waging an unprecedented campaign of stonewalling and obstruction on issues the American people care about," such as health care and the family separation policy, as well as "countless egregious examples laid out in the Mueller report."

The resolution would also reaffirm the ability of House committee chairs to go directly to a bipartisan panel that controls the House lawyers to seek enforcement of their subpoenas in court. The panel, composed of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip Jim Clyburn, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, is controlled by the majority party.

The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt last month for defying a subpoena to turn over the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as the underlying materials. Barr also defied a subpoena at the direction of the White House last month that sought documents and testimony related to the Mueller investigation.

"We're going to go to court, we're going to convince a judge that we are entitled to this information and that we were very reasonable in our request for this information," a Democratic aide said. The aide said that Democratic lawmakers have been willing to negotiate with the Justice Department to obtain some of the information they seek "because we listened to their concerns." 

"They wouldn't negotiate with us," the aide added. "At the end of that, we think a judge will agree with us," a Democratic congressional aide said.

The resolution does not give House committee chairs any new powers to seek enforcement of their subpoenas, but it would be an acknowledgement that House Democrats feel they they are fighting with the administration on so many fronts that holding a full House vote for each ignored subpoena would take time away from legislating. 

"The resolution is a full-throated expression of support by the House of Representatives," a Democratic congressional aide said, to address "historically unprecedented" stonewalling. 

Aides also said it would strengthen the House's argument before a judge when seeking enforcement of their subpoenas in court. 

The Tuesday contempt vote comes as a growing number of House Democrats -- nearly a quarter of the caucus, according to the CBS News count -- want the House to open an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. 

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