Push­ing off im­peach­ment, Dems find unity at­tack­ing Barr

The News-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — Democrats are splin­tered by calls to im­peach Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. But they have found an­other com­mon en­emy and an al­ter­nate po­lit­i­cal foil in At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr.

Calls for Barr’s res­ig­na­tion erupted across the Demo­cratic Party this week af­ter he tes­ti­fied be­fore the Se­nate and re­buffed the House twice, first by deny­ing Democrats a full, unredacted ver­sion of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s re­port and then by skip­ping a hear­ing to re­view it. In re­sponse, Democrats threat­ened to hold Barr in crim­i­nal con­tempt of Congress — a lengthy le­gal process that could go on for months.

The feud with Barr has an­i­mated Democrats and tem­po­rar­ily shifted at­ten­tion away from im­peach­ment — and by ex­ten­sion, the party’s di­vi­sions over whether to pur­sue it. But with Trump re­sist­ing other con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and tes­ti­mony from Mueller likely on the hori­zon, the im­peach­ment ques­tion seems un­likely to sub­side for long.

For now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, who would lead im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, are putting their em­pha­sis on in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump, his busi­ness deal­ings and his ad­min­is­tra­tion. If Democrats do de­cide to im­peach the pres­i­dent, they will have al­ready made part of the case through over­sight. Trump’s re­fusal to com­ply with their re­quests — with Barr just the lat­est ex­am­ple — will only strengthen the case.

“Im­peach­ment is never off the ta­ble, but should we start there? I don’t agree with that,” Pelosi said Fri­day at an event in Med­ford, Mass.

Pelosi hasn’t held back in her crit­i­cism of Barr, ac­cus­ing him of com­mit­ting a crime by ly­ing to Congress about his com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Mueller. Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Kerri Ku­pec called Pelosi’s ac­cu­sa­tion “reck­less, ir­re­spon­si­ble and false.”

Other mem­bers of Pelosi’s cau­cus are go­ing af­ter the at­tor­ney gen­eral in even stronger terms.

“This is se­ri­ous mis­con­duct, this is a se­ri­ous ef­fort by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to pre­vent Congress from do­ing its over­sight, and in fact could form the ba­sis by it­self of ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment,” said Rhode Is­land Rep. David Ci­cilline, a mem­ber of the Ju­di­ciary panel, af­ter Barr skipped the hear­ing Thurs­day.

Repub­li­cans say the Democrats are fo­cus­ing on Barr as a sub­sti­tute for im­peach­ment, to avoid the po­lit­i­cal back­lash that would come with of­fi­cial pro­ceed­ings against Trump.

Jose Luis Ma­gana / Associated Press

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr speaks dur­ing a Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing on the Mueller Re­port on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.