Nadler Goes for Contempt: 'We Cannot Have a Monarch'

By Susan Jones | May 8, 2019 | 9:03am EDT
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) says it's time for a contempt citation against Attorney General William Barr. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( - At 10 o'clock this morning, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), will vote along party lines to recommend that Attorney General William Barr be held in contempt of Congress for refusing a subpoena to hand over the unredacted Mueller report, along with all the underlying documentation, for all members of Congress to see and discuss.

When it comes to the contempt resolution, "We have no choice," Nadler told CNN Wednesday morning. "He either has to comply with the subpoena or he will be held in contempt."

After the committee vote, the contempt recommendation moves to the House floor for another vote, and Nadler said the House, like the committee, has "no choice" but to pass it.


"The House must protect the right of the public and through Congress to get information about how the government is running, about possible wrongdoing, otherwise we have monarchy. And we do not intend to have monarchy in this country, whether it's -- whether it's a president Donald Trump or whoever, we cannot have a monarch.”

If the full House does hold Barr in contempt, it will be up to a court to decide any penalties, including fines, but not jail, since this would be a civil proceeding.

"Our attorneys will certainly ask the courts to expedite the procedure. And, as I said, the law is very, very clear. There are no complex legal issues here," Nadler said.

"It is very important for the American people, and certainly for the members of the Congress, to see the unredacted version of the (Mueller) report so they can judge for themselves. As I said, the Attorney General Barr has...been acting throughout as a personal attorney for the president, distorting what's in the report, lying about it, frankly, and trying to hold it back so that no one can see the exact magnitude of his lies."

Asked how "frustrated" he is, Nadler said, "It's not a question of frustration.

"The law must be vindicated, the American people must know what's going on. Appropriate action, whatever that may be, must be taken, and the president must not be permitted to operate a lawless administration and become a king.

“And we will have to insist on that no matter how long it takes. We cannot allow Donald Trump and his minions to convert a democratic government into what amounts to a monarchy where a Congress elected by the people has no real role."

Nadler said the phrase "constitutional crisis" has been overused, but nevertheless he said the country has been plunged into one:

"We’re in one. We’re in one because the president is disobeying the law, is refusing all information to Congress, which means that -- I mean, when -- when he told his nominee for the head of Homeland Security, 'close the border,' and then he said, well, that's illegal, he said, don't worry, I will protect you. That's a lawless administration. We cannot have a lawless administration."

On Tuesday night, Justice Department officials informed Nadler that if his committee proceeds with the contempt resolution, they will ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege on all materials subject to the subpoena.

Democrats say Trump waived executive privilege when he cooperated with the Special Counsel, allowing underlings to testify and handing over documents.

Nadler called the Justice Department's move obstructive and "dangerous."

He issued a statement, implying that impeachment may result:

"The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties. In the coming days, I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless Administration. The Committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover up.

“In the meantime, the Committee will proceed with consideration of the contempt citation as planned. I hope that the Department will think better of this last minute outburst and return to negotiations.”

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