Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that the House could pursue contempt charges against multiple people in Donald Trump’s orbit — not just Attorney General William Barr — as Democrats look to overcome the president’s blanket effort to hobble their investigations.
Pelosi declined to provide a timeline for when the full House would vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide the unredacted Mueller report, telling reporters there may be other related “issues” Democrats will want to handle simultaneously.
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“When we’re ready we’ll come to the floor,” Pelosi said, a day after the House Judiciary Committee approved the contempt resoluion. “And we’ll just see because there may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we might want to deal with at the same time.”
Pelosi’s comments indicate Democrats could wait weeks to take further action against Barr, while they determine whether other Cabinet officials are interfering with committee requests that range from accessing Trump’s tax returns to demanding details about the U.S. Census’ citizenship question.
“We’re not going to wait a few months, but I think we could wait a few weeks,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).
Democrats have also mused about holding former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents to the Judiciary Committee connected to his testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller. And they’ve chafed at Trump’s move to have his personal attorneys try to disrupt Democratic efforts to subpoena Trump’s financial information from Deutsche Bank, Capitol One and Mazars USA.
“Now we’re not even talking about isolated situations, we’re talking about a cumulative effect of obstruction that the administration is engaged in,” Pelosi said. “I support the path that our chairmen are on and I do believe that it will establish the case for where we go from here.”
Other Democrats have also talked in recent days about not moving to an immediate floor vote on Barr, saying it may be more advantageous to wait.
“Because the Trump administration has decided to do a blanket denial of all subpoenas, it’s not just affecting the Judiciary Committee, it’s affecting every committee that’s trying to get information on behalf of the American people,” Lieu said.
“We’re checking with other committees to see their timeline and if they’re also reasonably close to any contempt proceedings then we might just roll it all into one floor vote,” he added. “Intel, Oversight, Financial Services have all issued subpoenas.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, whose panel issued its own subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report on Wednesday, offered similar comments.
“A lot of these issues are coming to head in the various committees,” Schiff said on MSNBC Wednesday night.
“I think it would make sense to try to consolidate at least the date when we take up these contempt resolutions, if there are multiple resolutions, so they can be adjudicated at one time and we don’t take up time every week to re-litigate this.”
While Democrats are furious about Trump’s efforts to stonewall their oversight duties, Pelosi and other members of her leadership team are doing everything they can to rebuff internal demands to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.
Democratic leaders are also hesitant to use all their time on the floor to punish Trump administration officials instead of voting on their legislative agenda, which vulnerable Democrats are eager to tout back home.
Pelosi said while she agrees with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) that the country is in a “constitutional crisis,” Democrats will not rush into impeachment proceedings against Trump based on political pressure.
“That’s just the way it is,” Pelosi said. “And it is going to be based on fact and law and patriotism, not partisanship or anything else.”
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.