Could William Barr Face 'Jail Time' Over Possible Contempt Charge? CNN's Wolf Blitzer Asks Democratic Lawmaker

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CNN host Wolf Blitzer on Thursday asked Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) whether Attorney General William Barr could be jailed for being in contempt of Congress. CNN Screenshot

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Thursday asked Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) whether Attorney General William Barr could face jail time if Democrats decide to move forward with holding him in contempt of Congress.

During a segment on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, the show's host asked Jeffries if Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who's the House Judiciary Committee chairman, would "subpoena the attorney general to appear and testify?"

"That's certainly a possibility, but the next step is to make sure that the attorney general complies with the subpoena that he has already chosen not to follow, which is the one that calls for the unredacted Mueller report that was due yesterday," Jeffries responded. "They failed to provide that document, they failed to provide the underlying evidence that we also requested on behalf of the American people, so we could understand the full story in advance of his testimony."

Blitzer went on to ask what the committee could do "if they refuse to comply with these subpoenas."

"One of the things being contemplated is holding the attorney general in contempt of Congress, that would be a decision that will have to be made by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in consultation with staff and, of course, with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and the leadership team," Jeffries replied. "We have to make sure that we do not allow this administration to move us away from our Democratic Republic and to speed towards a dictatorship because we have an individual sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who clearly has done authoritarian tendencies.

"This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it's an issue about whether we will continue to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people," the Democratic lawmaker added.

Blitzer then pressed Jeffries on whether Democrats would consider imprisoning Barr if he continued to refuse. "If Nadler and your leadership moves forward with contempt and they still refuse to comply, what do you do next? How do you get this thing moving? Do you impose fines? Do you suggest maybe even, some have said, jail time for the attorney general of the United States?" he asked.

"Well, jail time is not something that I believe is being seriously contemplated," the congressman said. "Look, Wolf, we understand that we're going to have to continue to proceed along two tracks. Just this week, even though we've had a disagreement with the administration about the failure of the attorney general to testify, there was a high level conversation between the Speaker and Donald Trump to see if we could come together."

Thought Blitzer's inquiry about possible prison time seemed far-fetched, NBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi whether Barr should be jailed for lying to Congress at a press conference earlier today.

"There is a process involved here," Pelosi responded. "As I said, I'll say it again, the committee will act upon how we will proceed."

Earlier in the press conference, Pelosi asserted that Barr had "lied to Congress" when he said he didn't know if special counsel Robert Mueller supported his four-page summary of the Russia report.

"If anybody else did that it would be considered a crime," she said. "Nobody is above the law, not the President of the United States and not the Attorney General. Being the Attorney General does not give you a badge to say whatever you want and it is the fact because you are the Attorney General."

The New York Times and the Washington Post on Tuesday revealed the existence of a letter Mueller sent to Barr in late March complaining about his summary. "The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions," the special counsel wrote in the letter sent days after the completion of his investigation.

"There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation," Mueller added, according to the Post. "This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."