Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Cure For Your Contempt Ailment?

Is this you? You know Jerry Nadler's a clown, you know the contempt vote against AG Barr is a joke, but you still can't stop reading about it?

A cure for what ails you just might be Jonathan Turley's article today: Dems' Contempt Case Against Barr Is Unbelievably Weak.

Here's who Jonathan Turley is:

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and represented the House of Representatives in its successful challenge to executive actions under the Affordable Care Act.

He's also a super liberal, who nevertheless testified in favor of Barr's confirmation as AG because he regards Barr as a terrific lawyer and a man who would bring much needed integrity to the government's top legal position. Turley is one of those strange liberals who cares about the integrity of our institutions and the rule of law. Go figure, eh?

The House Judiciary Committee is voting to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and to secure a vote of the entire House of Representatives in order to send the matter to federal court. The problem is that the contempt action against Barr is long on action and short on contempt. Indeed, with a superficial charge, the House could seriously undermine its credibility in the ongoing conflicts with the White House. ... 
As someone who has represented the House of Representatives, my concern is that this one violates a legal version of the Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm.” This could do great harm, not to Barr, but to the House. ... 
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler ... raised three often repeated complaints against Barr in that he failed to release an unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller, allegedly lied twice to Congress, and refused to appear before the committee. Yet, notably, the only claim the committee seeks to put before a federal court is the redaction of the report. That seems rather curious since, if Barr lied or refused a subpoena as House leaders claim, it normally would be an easy case of contempt. The reason for this move is that House Democrats know both claims would not withstand even a cursory judicial review.

With that introduction, Turley turns to the claims of "false statements" and shows exactly how frivolous they are and why House Democrats don't dare bring them before a court. He then turns to Barr's supposed "failure to appear," and draws the same conclusion: it's all in bad faith. "The Democrats wanted to manufacture a conflict ..."

Lastly, he addresses the redactions.

That leaves us with the only ground cited by the Democrats for contempt, which is Barr refusing to release the unredacted report. Senate Democrats attacked him at his confirmation hearing for refusing to guarantee public release of the report without redactions. As a witness, I testified that they were asking Barr to commit to a potential criminal act to secure his own confirmation. The report inevitably would contain some grand jury material, which under the law is information that cannot be publicly released without a court order. It is a crime to unveil such information. 
So Congress now will ask a court to find civil contempt for Barr refusing to release grand jury information. The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected a district court claim to have the “inherent supervisory authority” to disclose grand jury matters because of great public interest. To make matters worse, the Justice Department has now said the president has invoked executive privilege over the entire report, making this contempt claim even less likely to prevail over the long run. 

Democrats are launching the weakest possible contempt claim against the administration in a civil action with a long track through the courts. In the end, there is utter contempt in this action, but not in the case of Barr.


  1. I'm going to bet Mueller does testify, because his plan was to drag out his "investigation" for 4 years. Problem is, Barr came home, looked at the mess, and asked "what are you doing here, exactly?"
    So Mueller has been invited by Democrats to come "testify" and provide excuses for Democrats to continue Mueller's "investigation".
    To top it off, Mueller won't be alone when he "testifies". He'll have a lawyer sitting behind him (provided by Wray?) interrupting whenever a Republican asks an uncomfortable question.
    The charade continues...

    1. It's not that simple. As I said on another post, Mueller knows he has burned all his bridges with Barr. I assume Mueller will have a lawyer with him, but since he would be talking about matters that occurred while he was a prosecutor for DoJ, that lawyer will be provided by Bill Barr. Barr will have NO problem with Republicans asking Mueller uncomfortable questions.

      Personally, I sorta hope he does testify. But it would probably be somewhat foolhardy at this point.