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By: Door County Pulse

Governor Tony Evers

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee on Tuesday approved two of the five scientist positions Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed to restore science in environmental policy, but they cut millions of dollars from plans to reduce pollution from farms and industry.

Under questioning by Democratic committee members, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the Republican majority had cut about $43 million from Evers’ Year of Clean Drinking Water programs aimed at reducing pollution that fouls state lakes, streams and drinking water.

“This is ignoring manure coming out of people’s taps,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “They cannot drink the water. What would you do if you could not drink the water in your homes?”

Committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said water quality is better than it was in the 1970s, a time “when you couldn’t see the bottom of the lake.”

“Some of the biggest manure production comes in this building,” Nygren said.

But Taylor pointed to fiscal bureau statistics showing that Department of Natural Resources regulators have been overwhelmed by the growth of the dairy feedlot industry and that a record 101 manure spills were reported in 2018, bringing the total to more than 10 million gallons spilled in the last 12 years.

Committee Republicans postponed a vote on Evers’ proposal to increase fees on large animal feedlots to help pay for five more DNR regulators to enforce water pollution laws.

Source: wiscnews.com

Congressman Mike Gallagher

Three Republican congressmen who served in the military are relaunching a PAC to help recruit more GOP veterans like themselves to run for Congress. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Mike Gallagherand Michael Waltz (Florida) announced they are forming the War Veterans Fund PAC this cycle, which aims to recruit Republican veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to run in their home districts and assist them with funding.

Veterans are “natural leaders, problem solvers and patriots,” Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, said at a joint press conference for the PAC.

Source: rollcall.com

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin demanded answers from President Trump after media reports revealed that more than $62.4 million in U.S. taxpayer-funded aid meant for American farmers was given to a meat-packing company owned by two Brazilian billionaires who are currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The payment is for pork.

Wisconsin has lost 1,480 dairy farms since President Trump took office. In April alone, Wisconsin lost 90 dairy farms.

“Allowing taxpayer funds to support foreign agricultural companies, particularly corrupt foreign companies, at a time when farmers in Wisconsin and across the country are suffering from pain caused by your trade wars is outrageous, and I’m calling on you to explain how you allowed this to happen,” Baldwin wrote in her letter.

News reports recently revealed that more than $62 million of U.S. trade-war aid that was intended to support American farmers has been awarded to JBS, a Brazilian-based multinational meat-packing company owned by two brothers who have admitted to bribing officials in Brazil. JBS USA, the U.S. branch of the firm, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating its federal discharge permit by dumping slaughterhouse waste for years at its plant. The company was fined $50,000 last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating livestock sales laws by failing to give U.S. pork farmers a full accounting of transactions.

Source: Baldwin release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson was joined by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in introducing the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act: legislation to give law enforcement enhanced tools to combat the opioid epidemic and close a loophole in current law that makes it difficult to prosecute crimes involving some synthetic opioids.

“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses,” Johnson said. “The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.”

“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the companion legislation in the House. “Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Sen. Johnson, Lauri Badura and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.”

Source: Johnson release

President Donald Trump

President Trump and his team on Wednesday sought to downplay the significance of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first public comments about his investigation and the reason he did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump committed a crime.

In a remarkable statement, Mueller made clear he would have exonerated Trump if he was confident the president did not commit a crime while also noting that the Constitution offers another avenue – impeachment – to accuse a sitting president of a crime.

“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!” Trump tweeted. “Thank you.”

The responses from the president and his team ignored Mueller’s most damning comments from a lectern at the Justice Department, where he made clear that he did not charge Trump with a crime in large part because the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel guidelines prevented him from doing so.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) reintroduced companion versions of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. This legislation would help to curb the opioid epidemic by outlawing new fentanyl variants—known as analogues—as they are discovered.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues. Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Senator Johnson, Lauri Badura, and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.” 

Senator Johnson“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses. The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.” 

Background on the SOFA Act:
Fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II controlled substance used to treat cancer patients. However, it is dangerous and can be lethal outside of the careful supervision of a doctor. Fentanyl abuse is one of the leading contributors to the opioid epidemic.

A new chemical compound, known as an analogue, is created by modifying one small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl. These compounds fall into a legal loophole and contribute to the alarming rate of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. The DEA has temporary scheduling authority that will expire in February 2020 absent congressional action.

Analogue producers will continue developing new variations, and law enforcement agencies must have the tools to adapt to these changes. Under current law, DEA scheduling practices are reactive in nature. Typically, fentanyl analogues are only scheduled after they have resulted in deaths across multiple states.

The SOFA Act permanently closes the legal loophole by adding nineteen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list. It also gives the DEA the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered, making enforcement and scheduling procedures more proactive.

The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son Archie to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) reintroduced companion versions of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. This legislation would help to curb the opioid epidemic by outlawing new fentanyl variants—known as analogues—as they are discovered.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues. Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Senator Johnson, Lauri Badura, and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.” 

Senator Johnson“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses. The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.” 

Background on the SOFA Act:
Fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II controlled substance used to treat cancer patients. However, it is dangerous and can be lethal outside of the careful supervision of a doctor. Fentanyl abuse is one of the leading contributors to the opioid epidemic.

A new chemical compound, known as an analogue, is created by modifying one small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl. These compounds fall into a legal loophole and contribute to the alarming rate of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. The DEA has temporary scheduling authority that will expire in February 2020 absent congressional action.

Analogue producers will continue developing new variations, and law enforcement agencies must have the tools to adapt to these changes. Under current law, DEA scheduling practices are reactive in nature. Typically, fentanyl analogues are only scheduled after they have resulted in deaths across multiple states.

The SOFA Act permanently closes the legal loophole by adding nineteen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list. It also gives the DEA the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered, making enforcement and scheduling procedures more proactive.

The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son Archie to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting against H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act:

“The CREATES Act is good, bipartisan policy that will lower prescription drug prices for Americans—which is why I am the lead Republican sponsor of the bill. Unfortunately, in a blatant partisan play, the Democratic leadership has attached CREATES to the so-called ‘Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act.’ This move showcases the main problem in Washington—scoring political points instead of helping the American people. 

H.R. 987 would bail out a failing Obamacare system, but it stands no chance of becoming law. It’s incredibly disappointing that Democratic leadership chose to play politics rather than legislate.  Lowering prescription drug prices is one of my top priorities this year.  We could accomplish that with the CREATES Act.  Instead, we saw a clear political stunt today and are no closer to helping the American people.” 

Background on H.R. 987: 
H.R.987 combines three bipartisan drug pricing bills with four partisan Obamacare bailout bills. They are: H.R. 965, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act; .R. 1499, the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act; H.R. 938, the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act; H.R. 1385, the State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges (SAVE) Act; H.R. 1386, the Expand Navigators' Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act; H.R. 1010, To provide that the rule entitled "Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance" shall have no force or effect; and H.R. 987, the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower Health Education Act.

Congressman Sensenbrenner voted for Amendment #2, which would have stripped the provisions aimed at bailing out Obamacare and retained the prescription drug price language. The amendment’s failure led to Sensenbrenner ultimately voting no on H.R. 987.

Background the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act: 
In order for a generic or biosimilar prescription to have FDA approval, the generic manufacturer must be able to compare its product to the brand-name product. Simply put, if the product is as safe and effective as the label, then the FDA can approve the generic.

Some generic manufacturers, however, have difficulty obtaining samples of medication from the brand-name company. This is because brand-name companies have an incentive to make it difficult for generic producers to obtain their brand-name products.

The CREATES Act gives generic manufacturers the ability to bring actions in federal court against brand-name companies that refuse to provide samples of their products for purchase and use in the generic approval process. In so doing, the CREATES Act helps to increase the likelihood of a generic product coming to the market so consumers have more affordable options.

The CREATES Act also gives the FDA more discretion for approving alternative safety protocols that meet the statutory standards already in place. This helps the FDA more efficiently process generic applications. In the end, this helps consumers, who will have greater choice when selecting their medications.

According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, the CREATES Act will save the federal government $3.9 billion on prescription spending.

More than 90 organizations representing consumers, physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, insurers, antitrust exports, and others support the CREATES Act. Supporters include AARP, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Consumer Reports, Public Citizen, American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Patients for Affordable Drugs, and the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs.

By; Charles Benson of NBC26

The word "tariffs" may not come up in your dinner table conversation, but it's a big issue now at the White House.

TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson asked President Trump adviser Peter Navarro about the escalating trade war with China and what it means for consumers and Wisconsin companies.

Navarro is not a household name, but he's helping Trump's team negotiate a better trade deal with China.

"My mission at the White House is to help create good-paying jobs for the men and women who work with their hands," said Navarro.

Dr. Navarro toured the Waukesha County Technical College campus with U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and talked with students learning new trade skills.

Navarro is considered a China hawk. He favors getting tough on trade with China.

Benson: "Take me inside a middle class family, they're a lot of about trade wars and escalating tariffs: Why should they care and how can the U.S. win?"

Navarro: "China engages in seven different forms of economic aggression. Every American needs to understand the scope of this.

"That scope — from hacking computers to steal business secrets to dumping products below cost.

"To help level the playing field, Congressmen Duffy and Jim Sensenbrenner are backing a bill called the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act.

"It says if one nation charges a higher tariff — meaning a tax on our goods going into their country — then the U.S. will charge the same tariffs on their exported products.

"My mission at the White House is to help create good-paying jobs for the men and women who work with their hands." — Trump adviser Peter Navarro

"What President Trump is trying to do is defend your jobs, your health your safety, national security by taking China on."

Wisconsin Democrats don't agree with the president's efforts so far.

"Wisconsin needs better trade deals, not trade wars," said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

"President Trump's haphazard approach on tariffs has led to these retaliatory tariffs from China that will hurt Wisconsin manufacturers and will also hurt our farmers during an already extremely challenging time for our agriculture economy.

"I have pressed the Trump administration to provide support for farmers, but so far the president hasn't delivered results and our farmers can't afford to wait."

By: Todd Ruger of Roll Call

The House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over access to the full special counsel report, escalating a broadening clash between the legislative and executive branches over congressional oversight.

The resolution, approved on a 24-16 roll call vote along party lines, came after days of negotiations with the Justice Department in public and private that came down to how many lawmakers and staffers could see and discuss the report from Robert S. Mueller III, and how much material they would see because of court orders protecting it.

At the outset of a meeting that spanned more than six hours, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested the resolution addressed broader concerns over the separation of powers.

But House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested the resolution addressed broader concerns over the separation of powers. 

“Our fight is not just about the Mueller report, although we must have access to the Mueller report," Nadler said. "Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress as an independent branch to hold the president, any president, accountable."

The Justice Department late Tuesday said Barr would be compelled to request that President Donald Trump invoke executive privilege over the material covered by the congressional subpoena.

Ahead of the vote, Justice Department officials informed Nadler in a letter that they asserted executive privilege over all the Mueller report materials subpoenaed by the panel.

“This is not a step we take lightly,” Nadler said.

Nadler said the Justice Department’s legal arguments “are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis” and moved forward with the vote.

“The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said. “In the coming days, Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless administration.”

During a heated partisan discussion, Democrats accused Barr and the Trump administration of having contempt for congressional oversight, while Republicans called the move premature and unneeded.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, called the committee’s recent actions “disgraceful,” while Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, said he was “really here in mourning, for a once great Judiciary Committee.”

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said that the committee moved from request to contempt vote in only 43 days, compared to the 250 days the House Oversight Committee waited in 2012 before voting to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt. 

“Why this rush?” Collins said.

Collins called the move “without any valid legislative or administrative reason” and “a cynical, mean-spirited, counterproductive and irresponsible step.” 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the attorney general would have to commit a crime of violating grand jury secrecy to fully comply with a subpoena for the unredacted version of the Mueller report.

“What we’re doing here is forcing the attorney general to break the law, to place in jeopardy innocent people who were not involved in any of the things Mr. Mueller ended up investigating, and shaming ourselves in the process,” Sensenbrenner said.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, paused before speaking at the hearing because she said this is a “moment in history.” 

She said Barr and Trump broadened executive privilege and it was a “purposeful collapse” of negotiations.

“The president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the constitution of the United States over America,” Lee said.

The resolution now goes to the full House, where it has the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But even if the House approves it, federal prosecutors in the Trump administration are unlikely to pursue a criminal contempt case against the nation’s top law enforcement official. “Reality: All players know this is mostly theater,” Ross Garber, who teaches political investigations and impeachments at Tulane Law School, tweeted Tuesday night. 

“There will be a contempt vote. There will not be a criminal prosecution. Committee will file civil case," Garber added. "There will be more negotiations and probably some additional info provided by DOJ. Case will last until after 2020 elections.”

After the 2012 Holder contempt vote, no criminal charges were filed against Holder, and the lawsuit over the records lawmakers saw stretched for years.

Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, tweeted that if the negotiations come down to how many members can view redacted material from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, and how many staff members each can bring, that “this would be an *absurd* hill on which *either* side should plant its flag in litigation. Surely a compromise is possible.”

Pelosi said Wednesday, when asked at a Washington Post live event whether House Democrats would consider impeaching Barr, that: “Nothing is ever off the table.”

And the Barr contempt vote comes amid increasing tension between the Democratic-led House and the Trump administration over subpoenas from various committees.

White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders blasted Nadler's efforts as a "blatant abuse of power" intended to distract from the president's agenda. 

Nadler said the Judiciary Committee will hold former White House counsel Donald McGahn in contempt of Congress if he does not comply with a subpoena to appear before the committee on May 21.

McGahn, who missed a first deadline in a subpoena to turn over the documents because the White House asserts it has legal custody of them, faces a second deadline two weeks from now, when the Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed him to testify about the alleged obstruction of justice.

By: Tom Tillison of BPR

With House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., pushing ahead with his vindictive threat to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not giving up an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, a critical point is being missed in all the hoopla.

That being that Nadler’s subpoena is requesting that Barr do something that is illegal.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., and other members of the Judiciary panel pointed out that the Mueller report includes grand jury testimony and that it would be “a crime” to disclose this testimony.

“The committee, by making this insistence and issuing this subpoena, is telling the attorney general of the United States to commit a crime,” Sensenbrenner said during Wednesday’s hearing. “Because it is a crime for anyone to disclose grand jury information of anyone else.”

Sensenbrenner admonished the Democrats on the committee members for making an illegal request.

“It is absolutely shocking that the majority of this committee is going to ask the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to commit a crime,” he stated. Shocking.”

The Republican lawmaker noted that “it’s really impossible for the people who work on this Capitol Hill to keep a secret,” saying that is an unredacted copy of the Mueller report is turned over, “it will be on the front page of every newspaper in the country within 48 hours.”

Rep. Louie Gomar, R-Texas, was on the same page, saying Barr was being asked to do something that was illegal without a court order.

“You cannot be in contempt for failing to produce what would be illegal to produce without a court order,” Gomar declared. “You’re on the wrong side of history.”

“There is no joy here in seeing the abuses,” he continued. “I hope and pray literally for the day when we can join forces and quit trying to push this idea of an attempted coup and uncover the abuses that have truly gone on.”

Alleged abuses Barr is trying to get to the bottom of by looking into the circumstances that resulted in a special counsel to investigate nonexistent Russian collusion.

By: Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from Congress.

The committee’s 24-to-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate over the future of American democracy, was the first official House action to punish a government official in the standoff over the Mueller report. The Justice Department denounced the move as unnecessary and intended to stoke a fight.

After the vote, the Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, swatted away questions about possible impeachment, but added, “We are now in a constitutional crisis.”

The contempt vote raised the stakes in the battle over evidence and witnesses as Democrats investigate Mr. Trump over behavior detailed by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in his report into Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice. By the day’s end, it seemed all but inevitable that the competing claims would have to be settled in the nation’s courts rather than on Capitol Hill.

“Our fight is not just about the Mueller report — although we must have access to the Mueller report,” Mr. Nadler said during a debate. “Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress, as an independent branch, to hold the president, any president, accountable.”

The Justice Department, the White House and House Republicans lined up to contest that claim, shooting back that Democrats were the ones abusing their powers to manufacture a crisis.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Kerri Kupec, deplored the contempt vote as “politically motivated and unnecessary,” and the two sides traded blame over who had cut off weeks of negotiations over a possible compromise.

“Regrettably, Chairman Nadler’s actions have prematurely terminated the accommodation process and forced the president to assert executive privilege to preserve the status quo,” Ms. Kupec said. “No one, including Chairman Nadler and his committee, will force the Department of Justice to break the law.”

Though Mr. Trump has repeatedly tried to withhold information from Congress, and pledged to object to all House subpoenas, the executive privilege assertion is his first use of the secrecy powers as president.

The Justice Department, which asked the president to step in, described the assertion as a “protective” measure that would give Mr. Trump time to fully review the materials before making a final determination about executive privilege. But the timing signaled that the White House was eager for a fight.

“The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the president’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy,” said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

It was not immediately clear when the full House would vote, and the intervening period could allow Mr. Barr time to negotiate. Mr. Nadler said he expected a House vote “rapidly.”

After a contempt vote, the House would most likely file a lawsuit seeking to enforce their subpoena, but the ensuing legal process could take years, effectively stalling Democrats’ quest.

Passage of such a resolution would be only the second time in American history that the nation’s top law enforcement official is found to be in contempt of Congress.

The Judiciary Committee was not the only House panel locked in conflict over the material. During the contempt hearing on Wednesday, the Intelligence Committee quietly sent the Justice Department its own subpoena for the full Mueller report and underlying evidence, as well as any counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material generated during the special counsel investigation. The panel likewise blamed the department for failing to accommodate its bipartisan oversight interest in the material and argued that as the body that oversees the intelligence community, it had special authorities to view the secretive material.

“The law is on our side,” said the committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California. “The committee’s efforts to obtain necessary documents to do our constitutionally-mandated oversight work will not be obstructed.”

Mr. Barr voluntarily released last month a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report, which concluded that despite ample efforts by the Kremlin, the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Mueller also laid out at least 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice, and said he could not make a traditional judgment because of various legal constraints.

But Democrats say Mr. Barr’s version is not good enough, and they have accused the attorney general of stonewalling a legitimate request for material they need to pick up an investigation into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Mr. Trump. The Democrats’ request includes secretive grand jury information and other evidence.

The committee’s 27-page contempt report lays out the panel’s need for the report and offers an accounting of attempts to get Mr. Barr to share the materials first voluntarily and then under subpoena.

The Justice Department had tried to stave off the committee vote, offering to lawmakers some concessions around a less redacted version of the Mueller report, which omitted only grand jury material. Democrats deemed the offer insufficient.

The Justice Department had other objections to the subpoena. Compliance would require the department to violate “the law, court rules and court orders” as well as grand jury secrecy rules, a Justice Department official, Stephen E. Boyd, wrote. Republicans on the committee seized on that point to accuse Democrats of forcing Mr. Barr to choose between complying with their subpoena or the law.

But Democrats said they did not expect Mr. Barr to break the law and unilaterally release grand jury secrets, but rather to join them in petitioning a judge to unseal material for the grand jury for committee use.

Mr. Nadler said after the vote that Democrats intended to go to the judge on their own authority.

Democrats view the president’s executive privilege claim as nonsense, since much of the report and evidence has either been released publicly or shared with lawyers.

Still, Mr. Trump’s invocation of privilege could tie up the material in court and significantly complicate Democrats’ efforts to call other witnesses. Mr. Nadler said Wednesday it could delay a potential hearing with Mr. Mueller in the Judiciary Committee. And it could also limit testimony by Donald F. McGahn II, a former White House counsel and key witness in the special counsel’s investigation, scheduled under subpoena for May 21.

Democrats’ frustration in the hearing room was clear. “I can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution of the United States of America,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas said.

Republicans rose one after another to defend the attorney general and urge the Democrats to turn their investigative focus to the origins of what they see as a special counsel investigation cooked up to smear the president.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who was one of the “managers” of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, criticized Democrats for lending support to a “character assassination squad running around this town” sullying innocent people.

There is little precedent for holding an attorney general in contempt. House Republicans did it for the first time in 2012, for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in connection with requests for information about the botched “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking investigation. Republicans cited that case frequently on Wednesday in an effort to paint Democrats as unreasonable. They had waited hundreds of days before escalating their fight over documents to a contempt citation, they said. Democrats waited just a few weeks in the instance of Mr. Barr.

“Why this rush?” asked Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee. “Without any valid legislative or administrative reason, we can only assume Democrats, led by the chairman, have resolved to sully Bill Barr’s good name and reputation.”

The example is a potentially cautionary one for both sides. Despite President Barack Obama’s assertion of executive privilege over the material in questions, House lawmakers ultimately prevailed in court, forcing the administration to hand over the evidence. But the process took years to play out and could have taken longer if the Obama administration had appealed a court’s decision.

In this case, a contempt citation does not guarantee an outcome Democrats want. While defying a congressional subpoena is technically a misdemeanor crime, it is up to the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute. And though Democrats have mused in recent weeks about the authority of the House to apply punishments, including fines and detention, those outcomes have little modern precedent and are unlikely to actually be pursued.

Instead, a contempt citation would effectively push the dispute into the courts, where a judge could decide whether to force the administration to hand over the material. But that process would be lengthy, especially with Democrats likely to turn to the courts in a range of other disputes over Mr. Trump’s tax returns and over other potential witnesses to the obstruction investigation.

By: Jeff Mordock of the Washington Times

A Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday the panel is asking Attorney General William P. Barr to commit a crime by turning over special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and the supporting evidence.

“The committee, by making this insistence and issuing this subpoena, is telling the attorney general of the United States to commit a crime because it is a crime for anyone to disclose grand jury information at anyone else,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican.

Mr. Sensenbrenner scolded Democratic committee members for pursuing a contempt vote against Mr. Barr for balking at their request for the full Mueller report.

“It is absolutely shocking that the majority of this committee is going to ask the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to commit a crime,” he continued. “Shocking.”

Mr. Sensenbrenner also cautioned that turning over the full report to Congress will result in it being leaked to the press and winding up on the front page of every newspaper in the country.

By: Alex Rogers and Ashley Killough of CNN

(CNN)The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to allow staff to question Attorney General William Barr during his hearing on the special counsel's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, raising the possibility that he won't show up.

Barr warned Democrats days ago that he won't appear before the committee, scheduled for Thursday morning, if they stick to the format.
"I don't know what he's afraid of," said House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat.
The vote was 21 to 14.
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel, called the move unprecedented, saying Democrats wanted the appearance of impeachment without formally starting the process. He also said if staff wants to ask questions, he or she should run for Congress. And Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican of Wisconsin, said such a motion had not happened in his 40 years in Congress.
Nadler argued that staff asked witnesses questions during impeachment inquiries of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, as well as Cabinet officials in previous decades.
Nadler said that Barr's hearing Thursday was especially important due to the recent revelation that special counsel Robert Mueller sent the attorney general a letter in March expressing his concerns with Barr's decision to release a memo summarizing the report. In that memo, Barr unveiled the overall points of the nearly two-year investigation and found that President Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, even though Mueller did not conclude whether Trump committed that offense. The Department of Justice then released a redacted Mueller report to the public.
Before the hearing, Nadler also said the committee would "take steps to enforce" a subpoena to the Justice Department for the unredacted Mueller report and its underlying evidence should Barr not comply.
    When asked if he thought Barr should step down, as other Democrats have called for, Nadler said that "there are great difficulties for the attorney general at this point."
    "Besides the fact that he clearly misled the American people, he seems to have testified non-truthfully to the Senate and the House, which raises major questions," Nadler said.