Democrats say Justice Department whistleblowers to testify

President Donald Trump departs after visiting outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. Walking with Trump are Attorney General William Barr, from left, White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON – House Democrats say they will hear testimony from Justice Department whistleblowers and attempt to slash the agency's budget, efforts they say are in response to Attorney General William Barr’s defiance of Congress and “improper politicization” of his job.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced Tuesday that the panel will hear testimony from whistleblowers and former department officials who are prepared to describe “specific incidents of misconduct” and the politicization of the department under Barr and President Donald Trump. Nadler did not say who the whistleblowers are, and the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Nadler said the committee will also introduce a bill to slash the budget of Barr’s personal office by $50 million, legislation that is unlikely to pass in the GOP-led Senate.

Barr has failed to appear before the committee for the year and a half he has been in office. He was scheduled to testify in March, but that hearing was canceled when Congress left town due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nadler said the panel has been unable to reschedule the appearance since.

“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.

The Justice Department sent Nadler a letter this week citing White House guidance that cabinet-level officials are not permitted to participate in congressional hearings during the month of June without approval from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to a person at the Justice Department familiar with the message. The person was not permitted to publicly release the letter and requested anonymity.

The letter said Barr would be happy to consider testimony when that guidance expires, or at the “return of regular order to the House of Representatives." Republicans have criticized House Democratic leaders for suspending most in-person activities during the coronavirus epidemic.