This reeks of a stunt designed to appease the left in lieu of impeaching Trump, which House Democrats really don’t want to do. If they won’t get tough with Trump for fear of the political consequences they’ll at least throw progressives a bone by getting tough with Barr, even though no one on either side expects any consequences to flow from this contempt decision apart from a perfunctory court process over the redacted parts of the Mueller report. The timing is suspicious too, as Republicans on the Committee noted today that their own decision to hold Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious case seven years ago played out over a much longer time horizon. But speed suits Nadler’s and Pelosi’s purposes: The quicker they have this fight with Barr, the sooner they can backburner impeaching Trump.
It’s not as if Barr’s insistence on redactions to the report is outlandish, notes Gabe Malor:
You will recall one of the categories of redactions from the Mueller report was for grand jury material.
The other redactions were for classified information implicating sources and methods, ongoing law enforcement matters, and personal privacy.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 8, 2019
Most of the redacted material is in the collusion part of the report anyway. If Democratic efforts to impeach Trump are focused on obstruction, which they almost have to be given Mueller’s verdict that Trump didn’t conspire with Russia, why do they need the unredacted report to proceed with “oversight”? Haul Mueller in, quiz him on obstruction, and make a call on impeachment.
Nadler may have another motive here, though, anticipated by Jim Jordan:
“Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his response? Democrats are going to hold him contempt,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), “I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous that he’s going to get to the bottom of everything.”
I think Bill Barr “getting to the bottom of everything” on how the Obama DOJ handled the start of Russiagate will end up roughly as disappointing to the right as Mueller’s conclusions were to the left, but there’s at least a chance that Barr and the IG will come up with something nefarious. If he does, rushing to hold him in contempt now gives Democrats a pretext to accuse Barr of retaliation later or to try to discredit his findings entirely. “How can we trust a claim of wrongdoing by an Attorney General who’s already been held in contempt for refusing to provide basic information about the Mueller investigation”?
Note that Nadler was asked point blank here why, if this is an, ahem, “constitutional crisis,” he won’t immediately proceed to take up impeachment of Trump for thwarting congressional oversight on various matters. All he can say is that sometimes impeachment isn’t the answer. Not the answer … to a constitutional crisis? If you needed further evidence that them making an example of Barr is just a way to placate the left amid their refusal to impeach, there you are. Exit quotation from Stephen “redsteeze” Miller: “We’re in the middle of a constitutional crisis which we’re going to allow to continue for more Sunday morning slots on CNN.”