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House Democrats Postpone AG Barr’s Oversight Hearing Until COVID-19 ‘Crisis Abates’


Attorney General William Barr is off the hook, for now. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Monday afternoon that the importance of hearing from the Attorney General of the United States on March 31 about controversial decision-making of recent months is outweighed by the risk that COVID-19 poses to health and safety.

“Due to overwhelming health and safety concerns, the [House Judiciary Committee] will postpone our March 31st oversight hearing with Attorney General Barr,” Nadler said. “DOJ has made a commitment to rescheduling the hearing for when the crisis abates and the Committee is able to reconvene.”

In a four-page letter sent to Barr on Feb. 28, the House Judiciary Committee issued a formal request for “information concerning improper political interference” by President Donald Trump and others “in enforcement
matters handled” by the DOJ.

“The abandonment of these longstanding practices has motivated more than 2,000 former [DOJ employees—public servants of both parties, including but not limited to a former Deputy Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush to call for your resignation,” the letter said. “These circumstances are deeply troubling.”

“Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility,” the letter continued.

The hearing was chiefly meant to inquire about the DOJ’s controversial reversal on Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation, the DOJ’s shift on Michael Flynn’s sentencing recommendation, the DOJ’s channel for receiving and evaluating Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine dirt, and the John Durham probe, among other things.

As Nadler’s statement notes, it is not clear when Barr’s hearing will occur. That depends on when the “crisis abates,” and no one knows the answer to that.

The decision by House Democrats comes not long after the Trump administration told lawmakers they would have to wait to hear from officials currently combatting the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.