Pelosi suggests floor vote on Barr contempt not imminent

‘There might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we’ll deal with at the same time,’ Pelosi says

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the House might wait a while before voting on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday the House might wait on a floor vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress until seeing how a similar situation plays out with former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

“When we’re ready, we’ll come to the floor,” the California Democrat said during her weekly press conference. “And we’ll just see because there might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we’ll deal with at the same time.”

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Pelosi appeared to be referring to the fact that the Judiciary Committee, which voted Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt, may also do the same later this month for McGahn if he does not appear for testimony on May 21.

The Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for McGahn with two deadlines. He already missed the first, a May 7 deadline to turn over documents related to instances chronicled in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report in which President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice. 

McGahn did not turn over the documents because the White House asserts it has legal custody over them and indicated it may assert executive privilege if needed. 

Judiciary Democrats are concerned McGhan will miss the second deadline in the subpoena, their request for him to testify on May 21 — especially if the White House invokes executive privilege as it did over the panel’s subpoena for the attorney general to provide the unredacted Mueller report and investigatory materials. 

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If McGahn skips the May 21 hearing, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has said the panel will hold him in contempt.

A committee vote on that could occur that same week, but it would be a tight schedule to also have a floor vote on the potential McGahn contempt citation and Barr contempt citation before the House departs May 23 for its week-long Memorial Day recess. That means the Barr contempt resolution may not hit the floor until June.

Once the full chamber votes to hold Barr and potentially McGahn in contempt, the House counsel will seek to force the citation(s) in court through civil proceedings.

‘Constitutional crisis’

Pelosi during her weekly press conference was only asked questions about House oversight matters, in particular the contempt efforts and whether Trump and his administration’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations puts more pressure on Democrats to impeach him.

Pelosi continued to hold the line on impeachment, saying that the committees are investigating the facts and the House will follow those wherever they lead.

“Impeach or nothing — it’s not that. It’s a path that is producing results and gathering information,” she said.

“And some of that information is that this administration wants to have  constitutional crisis because they do not respect the oath of office that they take,” Pelosi added. “Three equal branches of government, separation of power. They don’t respect that.”

 The speaker reiterated a remark she first made Wednesday, saying, “The president is almost self impeaching.”

[Pelosi: ‘Trump is goading us to impeach him’]

But the House is not going to play into Trump’s “goading,” as Pelosi has called it. Rather, Democrats’ approach to investigations and potential impeachment is going to be “very methodical,” she said.

“It’s very Constitution-based. It’s very law-based. It’s very fact-based. It’s not about pressure,” Pelosi said.

“We’re going to do the right thing, and it is going to be based upon fact, upon law,” she added. 

Pelosi has previously said the House would not move forward with impeachment unless such an effort were bipartisan and was supported by public sentiment. She didn’t reiterated those exact factors again Thursday but suggested they still hold.

“Impeachment is one of the most divisive things you can do, dividing the country, unless you really have your case with great clarity,” she said.

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