With U.S. Attorney General William Barr deciding not to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, members of that committee from Florida divided on party lines on the matter.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., sent a letter to the Miami Herald on the matter.
“On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify before an oversight hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. He is threatening to refuse to testify,” they wrote in the letter that Deutch’s office showcased on Wednesday.
“The Trump administration’s escalating resistance to oversight needs a reality check,” they added. “In 1975, the Supreme Court explained that congressional oversight authority ‘is as penetrating and far-reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.’ Basically, if Congress can write a law or dedicate tax dollars, the American people must have their questions answered. Whether demanding the attorney general defend preexisting conditions protections, shining light on the detention of children ensnared in our broken immigration system, or asking Barr about misleading spin he put on the Mueller report, Congress and the American people have the right to know.
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote that, ‘The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person accords with the fundamental principle of our government that ‘no person in this country is so high that he is above the law.’ To defend that principle, Congress must be able to carry out oversight. That is why the attorney general must show up, and the American people must have the opportunity to hear his answers,” they continued.
Over on the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., begged to differ.
“I stand with Attorney General Barr, and I applaud his decision to not be subjected to the circus that is the House Judiciary Committee,” Steube said on Thursday. “The attorney general agreed to appear before the committee under a certain set of rules and then Chairman Nadler changed them—a classic bait and switch. In the process of changing these rules, the Chairman also violated the rules of the House. He chose to throw out decorum to advance his partisan agenda, denying the American people the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr in the process. The decision of Chairman Nadler to have staff ask questions of a sitting Attorney General is abhorrent and frankly the American people should be offended their elected representatives were so willing to shirk their responsibility in the name of partisanship. It’s time for Democrats to end the circus and move on to doing the business of the American people.”
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.