WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee spoke on the floor of the United States Senate about the House Judiciary Committee voting 24 to 16 on Tuesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for his unwillingness to release an unredacted version of the Mueller Report.
The report’s few redactions were made because some material subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) that by law can’t be made public. Also, the material included items still before grand juries in ongoing investigations. The redactions also include content the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods. Lastly, material that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.
Barr made an mostly unredacted version available to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
“Mr. Barr has been transparent,” Grassley said. “He made the Mueller report available to them – 99 percent un-redacted in the obstruction section of that report. Instead of reading it, the Democrats who voted contempt moved like lightning straight to the charge of contempt. To me, that’s not good-faith negotiation.”
Grassley discussed when the House of Representatives found former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress by a 255 to 67 vote.
“(T)he House only held Attorney General Holder in contempt after many months of negotiations over documents that were withheld on bogus grounds,” he said. “And just for, connecting that to an issue, that was the Fast and the Furious investigation that I was involved in as well. We had a very good case against Holder. We attempted to negotiate with Holder for a long period of time before the other body held him in contempt.”
Grassley added that the case against Barr was not a good one.
He also warned about potential consequences to the House Judiciary Committee vote. “(T)his is going to make it very, very difficult in the future for Congress to conduct its constitutional role of oversight because future presidents are going to use this as an example of bad-faith attempt to negotiate with the executive branch of government to get what you want. And maybe what they want isn’t real information or real congressional oversight. They may be trying to make political points,” he said.