The House Judiciary Committee intends to punish Attorney General Bill Barr for rejecting Congress's demands to testify by slashing $50 million from his personal office budget.
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced the move Tuesday after President Trump's top lawman refused for a second time to abide by an agreement for planned oversight hearings.
"Attorney General Barr has been given ample opportunity to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and he has refused to appear once again," Nadler said in a statement.
“The Attorney General’s behavior is unacceptable," he said.
Nadler also accused Barr of undermining career staff at the Justice Department in a "flailing attempt" to erase the stain of the Mueller investigation into President Trump, and for ducking coronavirus oversight.
"Mr. Barr has thoroughly corrupted the integrity of the criminal justice system, he has shown contempt for Congress, and the Committee has an obligation to hold him to account," Nadler said.
Nadler would start by offering legislation this week to cut Barr's personal office.
Then, pointing to the Justice Department's decision to drop its pursuit of Trump's convicted former national security adviser Michael Flynn, which Nadler called evidence of corruption, Nadler said the committee would file an amicus brief to keep Flynn in jail. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and working for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent, as required by law. The Justice Department dropped its defense against Flynn's appeal over the objections of career prosecutors.
He also said the committee was preparing to bring in a string of whistleblowers to testify about misconduct and politicization of the Justice Department.
“I am not going to spend months litigating a subpoena with an Attorney General who has already spent years resisting the courts and legitimate congressional oversight — but neither will we stand by and allow Mr. Barr to continue to corrupt the Department," Nadler said. "We do not take these actions lightly or with any sense of joy. We have both a duty and a moral obligation to protect the rule of law in our country, and we intend to do just that.”
The Department of Justice did not answer a request for comment.