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What would Attorney General Bill Barr do to avoid being held in contempt of Congress? Would he brush the snowdrifts of dandruff off Mick Mulvaney's shoulders? Would he discuss his marriage with Kellyanne Conway, in the strictest of confidence, of course? Would he let Rudy Giuliani represent him in traffic court? Would he ... would he actually let the House Judiciary Committee see the underlying documents from the Mueller Report as they're entitled to do under the law?

YES. NO. NO. AND MAYBE.

For the second time, the Justice Department has decided hours before a scheduled contempt vote against Bill Barr that, hey, after giving it some thought, they actually can comply with a Judiciary demand for documents after all. And, you know what, turns out it's actually NBD if the entire committee gets to see the documents and even take notes on them, although they can't take copies with them because reasons. Sure it was just last month that Donald Trump was saying the entire Mueller Report was Top Secret Executive Privileged Keep Out This Means You. But, on further reflection, looks like it's actually cool you guys!


So, no contempt vote?

Well, kinda! House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler has agreed to table the vote for criminal contempt, but will proceed with a civil contempt motion for Bill Barr. The current Justice Department, headed by Barr himself, was unlikely to bring criminal contempt charges against its own Attorney General -- although a future, Democratic AG might take a different view. Barr is thus spared the possibility of a criminal contempt charge after 2020.

A civil contempt motion will allow congressional Democrats to sue Barr in court to force him to comply with the underlying subpoena or face a judicial contempt charge. Nadler plans to hold off on immediately filing suit, as he had threatened, to see if the DOJ actually forks over the documents, saying:

We have agreed to allow the Department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement. If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps. If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoenas in court and consider other remedies. It is critical that Congress is able to obtain the information we need to do our jobs, ensuring that no one is above the law and bringing the American public the transparency they deserve.

Dammit, are we the patsies here?

NO. Cut that "Dems in Disarray" shit out already. Once Nadler actually pulls the trigger on criminal contempt, he can no longer leverage the threat to get Mueller documents or anything else. And, in case you haven't noticed, fear of a contempt charge is the only thing causing that moves the AG at all. Barr is perfectly happy to let Don McGahn, Annie Donaldson, and Hope Hicks risk contempt and/or losing their licenses to practice law. But when it's his own ass on the line, he's a lot less brave.

Wait, what about Don McGahn?

Remember last week when the House said they were going to hold the contempt vote for Barr and McGahn together? Well, Barr caved, but McGahn is still refusing to hand over documents or testify to the committee. Even Kris Kobach, who is no one's idea of a good lawyer, had the sense to get his ass in to the House Oversight Committee and make his bogus assertions of executive privilege to their faces last Monday. Citing "privacy" and some vague gestures toward executive privilege, McGahn actually refused to show up at all. Which is not how any of this works.

So the vote to hold McGahn in civil and criminal contempt goes ahead as planned. And it's a safe bet that court case is full speed ahead.

So, what do we get?

Basically, we get Mueller's obstruction of justice documents. We get the FBI summaries of interviews with witnesses to the Comey firing -- Stephen Miller, Don McGahn, Rod Rosenstein, and Jared Kushner. And we get the original Ur Fired Cuz Russia Memo that caused McGahn to freak out and Rosenstein to write that dumb memo saying Comey had to go because he was mean to Hillary Clinton.

We get the interviews regarding the Michael Flynn debacle -- Sally Yates, Don McGahn, Andrew McCabe, Flynn himself, and his lawyer. We get the interviews where Trump tried to get Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself, or else to fire him -- Sessions, Reince Priebus, Corey Lewandowski, and Rick Dearborn.

And we get written notes from John Kelly, Corey Lewandowski, Rob Porter, and most importantly Annie Donaldson.

Plus a whole lot more!

If we're going to impeach Trump, these documents are not a bad place to start. If those motherscratchers at the Justice Department actually turn them over, that is. There's a good chance that Trump flips his shit and starts shouting about executive privilege. At which point, Nadler will have his lawsuit against Barr all teed up and ready to go.

So, all we had to do was threaten Bill Barr personally?

Yep. So much for his vaunted defense of holy presidential prerogatives. Faced with personal penalties -- the DC bar might not look kindly on a criminal contempt of court conviction -- every single legal principle he shouted about last week went right out the window. The guy may be crazy but he's not stupid! He knows those executive privilege and "privacy" arguments are total crap, and he's not risking his own bacon for that noise. We note that White House lawyer Emmet Flood is scheduled to make a beeline for the exit this Friday.

But these guys are undoubtedly telling Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to stick to their guns and refuse to show up to testify before the Judiciary Committee on the 19th and 24th. Profiles in courage, aren't they?

Wow, what a bunch of spineless whores!

You are wise in the ways of the world, grasshopper. As is House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings.

BRING IT ON.

[Politico / CNN / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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