Democrats launch contempt action against US AG

By AFP, Washington

US House Democrats have scheduled a Wednesday vote on whether to hold the nation's top law enforcement official in contempt for failing to produce a full, unredacted special counsel's report on Russian election interference.
Monday's rare and dramatic move against Attorney General Bill Barr intensifies the showdown between President Donald Trump and the Democrats who control the House of Representatives and are seeking to hold him to account for what they say was improper conduct.
"The attorney general's failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement, after a missed 9:00 am (1300 GMT) deadline. The Justice Department said in a letter it remained willing to accommodate the "legitimate needs" of Congress, within the scope of the law.
"The department's letter invites committee staff to come to the department on Wednesday to discuss a mutually acceptable accommodation," Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. The invitation was for Wednesday afternoon, hours after lawmakers begin their debate.
Barr declared Trump cleared of conspiracy with Russia and obstruction of justice shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller presented his 448-page report to the Justice Department.
But Democrats have protested that Barr has sought to protect the president by refusing to present the full report or underlying evidence to Congress.
The political skirmish played out on multiple fronts Monday, with the White House formally rejecting a request by Democrats to turn over Trump's tax returns, setting up what will likely be a prolonged legal battle.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee that its request lacked a "legitimate legislative purpose." ·With the two sides locked in a feud, nearly 500 former US prosecutors serving in Democratic and Republican administrations released a statement saying there was "overwhelming" evidence in the Mueller report that Trump obstructed justice.
"Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in special counsel Robert Mueller's report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting president, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice," they wrote.