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Chairman Nadler Rejects DOJ Demand that House Cancel Contempt Vote Before Resuming Negotiations

The Chairman Urges DOJ to Respond to Earlier Offers, Resume Negotiations without Conditions

Washington, June 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent the following response to Attorney General William Barr regarding the Department of Justice demanding that the U.S. House of Representatives cancel a contempt vote against Attorney General Barr for his failure to comply with a subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying materials. On May 24th, the House Judiciary Committee sent a letterto Attorney General Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone expressing an eagerness to engage in accommodation discussions. Earlier today, the Department of Justice wrote to Chairman Nadler with a demand for the contempt vote to be cancelled before resuming any accommodation discussions with the Committee.

Full text of today's letter can be found here and below:

June 4, 2019

The Honorable William P. Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Barr:

I write to reply to the Department of Justice’s letter of earlier today responding to the Judiciary Committee’s accommodation efforts, including the Committee’s May 24, 2019 and May 10, 2019 letters (enclosed). We urge you to return to the accommodation process without conditions. We are ready to begin negotiating immediately.

As you know, accommodation by both sides, Congress and the Executive, is required irrespective of the stage of proceedings. Indeed, accommodation has been urged by the courts well after the House has voted on contempt and litigation has begun, e.g. Comm. on Oversight & Gov’t Reform v. Holder, 979 F.Supp.2d 1, 26 (D.D.C. 2013), and even after a ruling on appeal, e.g. U.S. v. AT&T, 551 F.2d 384, 394 (D.C.Cir. 1976). There is simply no justification for your unilateral refusal to participate in the accommodation process yet again.

I also take exception to your characterization of how our prior accommodation efforts ended. Contrary to the account in your letter, the Committee has always remained open to continuing negotiations. We had an offer on the table late on the evening of May 7 when the Department suddenly declared an end to the accommodation process. My staff was still in their offices after the close of business hours awaiting a counteroffer when the Department broke off negotiations with a letter demanding that the contempt vote—scheduled to begin the next day— be cancelled if we wished to proceed with the accommodations process.

Now the brinksmanship you exhibited on May 7 is on display once again. As with the prior Committee vote, I cannot help but wonder what role the imminent floor vote played in you finally responding on June 4 to letters that have been pending for weeks.

At any rate, we are ready to proceed without conditions—as shown by the initiative we took with our detailed May 24 offer. I should add that, contrary to your argument that the Committee’s continuing accommodation efforts somehow suggest that our prior requests were overbroad, our offer to compromise was intended to respond to your prior objections by seeking a middle ground. We urge the Department to do the same.

We cannot agree that the House’s sense of urgency here is “premature and unnecessary.” It has been over 100 days since we first initiated the accommodations process on February 22, 2019. The pace with which we are proceeding is consistent with the exceptional urgency of this matter: an attack on our elections that was welcomed by our President and benefitted his campaign, followed by acts of obstruction by the President designed to interfere with the investigation of that attack. All of this misconduct was documented by the Special Counsel in the documents we now seek.

We urge you not to make the mistake of breaking off accommodations again. We are here and ready to negotiate as early as tomorrow morning.

Sincerely,

Jerrold Nadler
Chairman
House Committee on the Judiciary


cc: Doug Collins
Ranking Member

Pat Cipollone
Counsel to the President

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