WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr has told members of the House Judiciary Committee that he will not testify before their committee Thursday.
That’s according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The attorney general was asked to testify before the committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
His refusal to attend the hearing is likely to cause a further rift with congressional Democrats who have accused him of trying to spin Mueller’s report to favor the president.
Barr appeared Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Justice Department says the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is trying to place “unprecedented and unnecessary” conditions on the attorney general.
The attorney general was asked to testify before the committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec says committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s insistence that congressional staffers be allowed to question Barr is “inappropriate.”
Kupec says the attorney general “remains happy to engage directly” with members of the committee to answer their questions.
Nadler accused Barr of canceling his appearance because he’s “terrified” of facing questioning from the panel.
New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday the “next step” would be to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide a fully unredacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Barr has objected to the committee’s plan to have attorneys from both sides, Democrats and Republicans, do the questioning, alongside lawmakers on the committee.
Nadler says Barr is “stonewalling” Congress over the Russia probe and “trying to blackmail the committee” by setting the terms of the hearing. The chairman says he hopes Barr reconsiders his decision not to show.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump says calls from some Democratic lawmakers for Barr to resign are “so ridiculous.”
Trump tells Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan that he heard Barr “performed incredibly well” in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The president noted that three of the senators who questioned Barr are running for the presidency and accused them of “ranting and raving like lunatics, frankly.”
Trump was asked about Barr declining to appear before a House panel to testify on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Barr objected to the format of letting staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning.
Trump says, “They want to treat him differently than they have anybody else,” adding, “You elect people that are supposed to be able to do their own talking.”