Congress

Bipartisan swipes from McCarthy at House Judiciary and Senate Intelligence chairmen

House minority questions Nadler qualifications, says Burr’s panel ‘got it wrong’ on Trump Jr.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Thursday questioned Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s ability to hold the gavel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday continued his calls for Congress to “move on” from the special counsel investigation, he swiped at House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr.

The California Republican during his weekly press conference questioned whether Nadler is qualified to hold the Judiciary gavel, saying if he were in charge of the Democratic Caucus he’d haul the chairman in to meet with the House parliamentarian over his “lack of knowledge” about procedure. 

“Many people questioned his ability to hold the gavel based upon how he runs a meeting,” McCarthy said. “You cannot continue to allow somebody to demean a member on the other side because he disagrees with their amendment, to ignore the privileged motion, to not let both sides debate before you call the vote.”

The minority leader was referring to Republican members of the Judiciary Committee who have complained about Nadler’s handling of markups, including a May 1 vote on allowing additional questioning of Attorney General William Barr.

“This committee cannot function if members simply seek to waste as much time as possible,” Nadler said when arguing against an amendment that day, when he also had to fight back multiple Republican calls to be recognized to speak. “That is not a legitimate tactic in opposition.”

The next day, at what was supposed to be Barr’s testimony about the Mueller report, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the panel’s top Republican, called the treatment a “travesty” and said the chairman was “trampling minority rights.”

“When you do not recognize members for valid motions. You call things dilatory. Questioning the motives of what members are doing it for,” Collins said. “If the majority wants to run a committee in which minority rights do not matter, parliamentary procedure does not matter, we saw it on full display yesterday.”

“There’s not a member of the Democrats on this committee last year that can honestly look me in the face and say y’all were not treated much better by a chairman who followed the rules than we were treated yesterday,” Collins said.

Nadler banged the gavel to end that May 2 hearing as Rep. Matt Gaetz wanted to be heard. “Is that going to be how it is, Mr. Chairman? That there is not going to be a recognition of members who seek legitimate inquiry as to the procedures—” the Florida Republican said before his microphone was cut off.

Gaetz was still salty about it at Wednesday’s lengthy markup of a Democratic resolution to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. The committee reported out the contempt citation along party lines.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Glad to see the microphone is working this week,” Gaetz said.

A Judiciary Committee spokesperson says they have no response to McCarthy’s comments but a reporter was more than welcome to poll members on what they think of Jerry’s qualifications.

McCarthy also criticized Nadler for his subpoena to Barr for the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s report and underlying investigatory materials that the attorney general did not comply with, leading to the contempt citation.

If Nadler were serious about seeing the full Mueller report, McCarthy said, he should take advantage of the Justice Department’s offer that was extended to him and other top congressional and committee leaders to view a less redacted version of the report — still excluding grand jury information that requires a court order to be unveiled. 

“I have read it, and I encourage him to do the same,” McCarthy said. “He would realize that 98.5 percent of Volume One is available for him to read. Volume Two that he gets most concerned about — that 98 percent is already out there publicly; he could read almost entirely, 99.9 percent.”

“I think it goes to the character of who Nadler is that he doesn’t even take the time to go to read it,” he added.

McCarthy also blamed Nadler for Barr’s decision not to testify before his panel last week after Judiciary Democrats voted to change the format of the hearing to provide extra time for staff to question the attorney general.

“Never in the history of that committee have you had a staffer interview a Cabinet member,” he said. “The point that Chairman Nadler wanted to make is he wants it to be impeachment without saying the word.”

McCarthy stopped short of calling on Nadler to resign as chairman, as he and other House Republicans did earlier this year to Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. 

The GOP leader and members of his conference who serve on the Intelligence panel said Schiff misled the American people to believe President Donald Trump coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election when the evidence did not support that conclusion.

Nadler was not the only chairman McCarthy attacked on Thursday. He also went after Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr — a Republican — for subpoenaing Donald Trump Jr., although he did not address Burr by name.

“Donald Trump Jr. has already testified for hours — more than 20 hours,” McCarthy said. “I believe it’s time to move on. I think they have it wrong.” 

The Senate Intelligence panel ought to reconsider the subpoena, he added. 

Asked about discrepancies between what’s in the Mueller report and transcripts from Trump Jr.’s previous congressional testimony and why that wouldn’t merit another session, McCarthy demurred. 

“If you read the Mueller report, there were two questions,” he said. “Was there collusion? The answer is no. Was there obstruction? The answer is no. Nothing’s going to change that outcome. So the country needs to move forward. I know from a political basis why some people want to continue to do this, but I think the American public wants more. That’s why we should move forward.”

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