Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for William Barr’s resignation following the attorney general’s refusal to hand over an unredacted version of the Mueller report to the House judiciary committee.
“Barr needs to resign,” the influential Democratic congresswoman tweeted on Thursday.
On Wednesday Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono told Mr Barr to his face he should resign. At a remarkable Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, she accused him of trying to protect Donald Trump, claiming he had sacrificed a “once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar that sits in the Oval Office”.
The attorney general has failed to turn up for today’s House Judiciary hearing on the special counsel’s report, escalating an already acrimonious battle between Democrats and the Justice Department.
Mr Barr’s decision – he cited a disagreement over the questioning format – came the day the department missed a committee deadline to provide the panel with a full version of the report and its underlying evidence.
Those moves are likely to prompt a vote on holding him in contempt and possibly the issuance of subpoenas, bringing House Democrats and the Trump administration closer to a prolonged battle in court.
House committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said he would carry on with the Thursday’s hearing, despite an empty chair for the scheduled witness.
As Barr refused to testify, Democrats sought to speak to Robert Mueller himself. Mr Nadler said the panel hoped the special counsel would appear before the committee on 15 May and the panel was “firming up the date.”
The Justice Department has already made a less-redacted version of the report available for a small number of lawmakers, including Mr Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Democrats have so far declined to read it, saying they want the entire report released to a wider audience.