Congress

White House suggests Nadler should quit after Barr no-shows House Judiciary

‘I think what we’re seeing from Chairman Nadler is incapable of holding power’ Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said

Attorney General William Barr arrives to Dirksen Building to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "The Department of Justice's Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election," on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler should consider resigning over his plans to have staff attorneys question Attorney General William P. Barr at a hearing he is refusing to attend, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“I think what we’re seeing from Chairman Nadler is incapable of holding power. If he and his committee aren’t capable of … asking questions themselves and need to staff it out, then it seems like a pretty pathetic moment for the chairman of that committee,” Sanders told reporters outside the West Wing.

“Look, we lost confidence in Jerry Nadler a long time ago,” Sanders said.

Barr is refusing to testify at a Thursday hearing by Nadler’s panel because the chairman planned to have staff attorneys handle some of the public questioning of the AG. 

Barr is under fire from Democrats after several 2020 presidential candidates called for him to resign over Wednesday Senate testimony on the Mueller report. They claimed he lied about the special counsel’s findings and defended Trump like a defense attorney rather than the country’s top law enforcement official.

“It’s surprising to find out he (Nadler) has actually lost confidence in himself and his capability to do his job,” Sanders said. “If he can’t, and he’s not capable of asking the attorney general questions, maybe he should step down and resign and allow someone else to.” 

Sanders’ comment, however, does not neatly align with a past White House stance on non-members asking questions at high-profile hearings. Last fall, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans brought in Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor in Arizona, to question Christine Blasey Ford during now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

Sanders and her top deputy, Hogan Gidley, have yet to respond to an inquiry seeking an explanation for the contradiction.

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