The House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Attorney General William Barr scheduled for March 31 is on pause due to “overwhelming health and safety concerns” amid the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
“Due to overwhelming health and safety concerns, the @HouseJudiciary will postpone our March 31st oversight hearing with Attorney General Barr,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, wrote in a Twitter statement on March 23.
Nadler added that the Justice Department (DOJ) was committed to rescheduling the hearing for a later date “when the crisis abates.”
The hearing with Barr was announced on Feb. 12 after lawmakers claimed that the attorney general had “engaged in a pattern of conduct in legal matters relating to the President that raises significant concerns for this Committee,” citing media reports.
The DOJ came under extensive scrutiny earlier this year over concerns that the department was acting under the influence of “improper political interference” from President Donald Trump in cases related to former associates of the president such as Roger Stone and Trump’s lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The Democrats had billed the hearing as an opportunity to seek information and fulfill its oversight responsibility regarding how several departmental matters had been handled, including the Stone case, the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the department’s probe into the origins of the 2016 counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign, and the creation of a new process to vet information submitted by anyone including Giuliani.
The DOJ didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ queries about the postponement.
Along with Barr’s testimony, Nadler sent a subsequent letter to the DOJ requesting documents and interviews with former and current department officials. He requested testimony or interviews from more than a dozen U.S. attorneys who have knowledge of those criminal and civil matters, including John H. Durham, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut. Durham is leading the probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, the department’s handling of antitrust enforcement, and the four prosecutors who withdrew from Stone’s case following the department’s decision to revise the sentencing recommendation it deemed “excessive.”
In that case, the announcement to revise the sentencing recommendation came after Trump weighed in on Twitter about the initial 7 to 9 years recommendation. Barr had maintained that the decision to revise the sentencing recommendation was made prior to Trump’s Twitter post.
Barr later issued some rare criticism to the president, saying that he thinks “it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.” He said the public statements about the department and its staff make it “impossible” for the attorney general to do his job.
The attorney general added that he was “not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody,” whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president.
Trump subsequently agreed with Barr’s assessment saying that his social media posts were making Barr’s job harder.
“I do make his job harder. I do agree with that. I think that’s true,” Trump said at the time. “He’s a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard. He’s working against a lot of people that don’t want to see good things happen, in my opinion.”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak in Wuhan allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.