Per CBS News, Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee at the end of March, the Justice Department and the committee said.
In a letter to Barr on Wednesday, all 23 Democratic committee members wrote that they “wish to be candid” about a “set of concerns” they plan to ask about at the March 31 hearing, including his intervention in the sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone.
“Since President Trump took office, we have repeatedly warned you and your predecessors that the misuse of our criminal justice system for political purposes is both dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable to the House Judiciary Committee,” the letter said. “We have been consistent — and bipartisan — in this message for years.”
The members said Barr had “engaged in a pattern of conduct in legal matters relating to the President that raises significant concerns for this Committee” since becoming attorney general. “In the past week alone, you have taken steps which rase grave questions about your leadership of the Department of Justice,” the letter said.
TheHill reports Democrats are clamoring for Barr to testify and for the department’s decision to be investigated, arguing the move is the latest sign that Trump is feeling emboldened after Republicans acquitted him last week of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Barr an “enabler” of Trump, adding, “That’s a kind word.”
“It appears the attorney general of the United States and other political appointees at the Justice Department intervened to countermand the sentencing recommendation,” Schumer said.
The decision set off alarm bells around Washington given the context. Days after his Senate acquittal, Trump had removed two key impeachment witnesses from their positions and had yanked the nomination of an individual involved in the Stone case.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the onus is on Barr to speak publicly about the Justice Department’s decision. So far, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has maintained radio silence about what role the attorney general might have had in the push to reduce Stone’s sentence.
“There’s no way this happened without his direction,” Murphy said. “The attorney general has made it clear that his priority is to be a political agent of the president.”
Calls for Barr to testify began Tuesday when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said he needed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I request that you immediately schedule a hearing for Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee so that the committee and the American people can understand the Justice Department’s decision,” Harris wrote in a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the panel.
Graham has rejected the calls, saying he will not call Barr before the Senate panel specifically over the Stone decision.
But those demands escalated sharply Wednesday after Trump appeared to suggest that the Justice Department’s decision to ask for a lesser sentence was the result of Barr “taking charge” of the case.
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted.