By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas related to the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the No. 2 House official said on Monday.
“Next Tuesday, I will bring a resolution to the House floor forcing Attorney General Barr and former White House counsel McGahn to comply with congressional subpoenas that have been duly issued by the House Judiciary Committee,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.
“The resolution will authorize the Judiciary Committee to pursue civil action to seek enforcement of its subpoenas in federal court,” said Hoyer, a Democrat.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.
The House move escalated the fight between the Republican White House and Democrats who control the House and are seeking documents and testimony relating to various investigations, ahead of the 2020 presidential election in which President Donald Trump is seeking a second term.
The House Judiciary Committee voted on May 8 to recommend that the full House cite Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, for contempt of Congress after he defied its subpoena to hand over an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on 2016 Russian election interference.
Democrats had also subpoenaed McGahn to testify before the Judiciary Committee last month, but he did not appear after the White House directed him not to comply.
McGahn, who left his post as White House counsel last year, figured prominently in Mueller’s report, which cited him as saying that Trump called him several times to tell him to direct the Justice Department to remove Mueller.
“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” Hoyer said in his statement.
MUELLER REPORT HEARING
A redacted 448-page version of Mueller’s report released in April concluded that Russian operatives sought to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016, but it did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The report documented numerous occasions, however, in which Trump sought to quash the probe, including by firing former FBI Director James Comey. But Mueller ultimately did not reach a decision as to whether Trump had obstructed justice.
Since the Mueller report became public, the Trump administration has clashed with the House over its efforts to investigate him, his administration, family and business interests.
The Judiciary Committee said earlier on Monday it would hold a hearing on June 10 on Mueller’s report, with testimony from former U.S. attorneys and legal experts, including John Dean. The Trump critic and one-time counsel to former President Richard Nixon served a year in prison in connection with the Watergate scandal.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by G Crosse and Peter Cooney)