- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2019

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings on Monday announced a new vote this week to recommend holding Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress, saying he’s being stonewalled in trying to get answers about the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Mr. Cummings said his panel will vote Wednesday to begin contempt proceedings against Mr. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr., whose department oversees the Census Bureau.

The announcement came just hours after Mr. Barr reached a deal with another House committee, heading off contempt action in the Judiciary Committee over access to parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s work.

Mr. Barr’s supporters said the deal shows he’s willing to work to accommodate Congress’s investigations where he can and said it shows the rush to use contempt proceedings is premature.

But Democrats said Mr. Barr’s cooperation in one area doesn’t erase his resistance to other requests for information, fueled by President Trump’s vows to defy all subpoenas.

“Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross are complicit in this cover-up,” Mr. Cummings said, insisting, “I did not want this to happen.”

The administration says Mr. Cummings’ words were belied by his zeal to schedule the vote. Administration officials say they’ve already turned over 17,000 pages of documents, and have identified tens of thousands more pages related to the citizenship question.

Top officials have also made themselves available for interviews, the administration says.

Mr. Ross, in a statement, said he never refused to meet with Mr. Cummings, and accused Democrats of trying to poison on ongoing court case over the 2020 census citizenship question.

“It is sad for the country that the Committee continues to roll in this reckless direction,” Mr. Ross said.

The contempt situation on Capitol Hill has grown muddled by the day, with Democrats issuing threats, striking deals and backing down on threats.

The Judiciary Committee announced one of those deals Monday, when Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the Justice Department agreed to provide some of Mr. Mueller’s “most important files” to the committee.

The files appear to be supporting evidence Mr. Mueller amassed during his two-year probe into the 2016 election, Russian meddling and President Trump’s behavior.

“These documents will also us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to allegations laid out against the president by the special counsel,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.

The New York Democrat earlier this year led his committee to vote to recommend holding Mr. Barr in contempt for not turning over documents. Mr. Nadler said Monday that push is on hold, so long as Mr. Barr does cooperate.

The full House is slated to vote Monday on a resolution empowering Mr. Nadler, Mr. Cummings and other committee chairs to go to the courts to ask a judge to referee document disputes with the Trump administration.

But that resolution makes no mention of contempt — walking back what Democratic leaders had promised last week.

Democrats remain deeply divided over how strenuously to pursue investigations against Mr. Trump, and whether impeachment proceedings should begin.

Mr. Nadler presided over a hearing Monday in which John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, detailed what he called “remarkable parallels” between the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon and what he sees with Mr. Trump now.

“In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map was to President Nixon,” Mr. Dean told the panel. “Special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map.”

Mr. Dean, whose 1973 Congressional testimony ultimately toppled Mr. Nixon’s presidency, was invited by committee Democrats to put the Mueller report into historical context.

Democrats pushed him to draw out the comparisons and he complied, repeatedly accusing Mr. Trump of obstructing justice.

Republicans, meanwhile, wondered why the committee invited testimony from a man who had no connection to the Mueller report and last appeared before the committee in July 1974.

“This committee is hearing from the ‘70s and they want their star witness back,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee’s ranking Republican.

Mr. Nadler, though, called Mr. Dean, “a critical witness,” saying the committee needed his testimony to “draw our own conclusions” about Mr. Mueller’s findings.

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