White House Stonewalling on Subpoenas Merits Contempt of Congress Citations

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Congress is a coequal branch of government whether President Trump likes it or not. When the Administration refuses to comply with subpoenas, Congress must fulfill its oversight responsibilities through contempt citations if necessary. Attorney General William Barr’s conduct related to the release of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has been reprehensible to date and the Department of Justice’s stonewalling and refusal to release the unredacted report and the underlying evidence to Congress by his department must be checked. The full House should quickly follow the Judiciary Committee’s lead and vote to issue a contempt citation to the Attorney General. Congressional tolerance of Trump Administration slow-walking of document and witness requests have only led to outright stonewalling and that deeply disturbing pattern must be ended now.

Congress has every right to see the full report and the full findings of the investigation, not just the portions the Attorney General chooses to share. William Barr has had the full report since March 22 and since that time has acted as a White House apologist in an attempt to soft pedal and mischaracterize the damning findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s sophisticated efforts to elect Donald Trump to the presidency and subsequent attempts by the Trump Administration to obstruct that investigation. Attorney General Barr cannot just be given the benefit of the doubt, particularly in light of his conduct to date.

Despite the disgraceful efforts of the Attorney General to slow-walk and spin the Special Counsel’s report, there is no getting around the fact that the investigation has already led to 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences. The list of crimes already uncovered by the Special Counsel’s investigation and made public is staggering and unprecedented in the history of our nation.

Barr has also attempted to gloss over the report’s shocking findings that during the 2016 campaign and through the presidential transition, Donald Trump and more than a dozen of his associates had more than 140 contacts with Russian nationals, WikiLeaks, and their emissaries. Numerous additional investigations of possible criminal conduct uncovered by the Special Counsel have been spun off to other prosecutors.

The is clearly a situation where Congress must be given all the facts in order to meet its responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch. Further a precedent must be set in order to end the growing number of incidents of the Trump Administration attempting to withhold information and witnesses requested by Congress.