Scott Morefield | Reporter
Rep. Steve Cohen called for Attorne General William Barr to be detained by the U.S. House Sergeant-at-Arms for contempt of Congress and forced to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
The Tennessee Democrat made the remarks during a conversation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday night.
Cooper introduced the segment by pointing out Cohen’s “chicken Barr” stunt on Thursday after the attorney general failed to comply with his committee’s request to appear. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has threatened contempt proceedings if Barr doesn’t appear on Monday.
“I have no reason to believe they’ll do anything that is in keeping with the traditions of the relationship between the executive and the judicial as equal branches of government,” Cohen said, responding to Cooper’s question about how he thinks Barr will respond. “I think they will stonewall at all costs because they — they know that they can’t give up information and data or the president will be exposed for the type of person and the actions he’s undertaken.”
When asked what contempt proceedings would look like, the Tennessee Democrat expressed his “hope” that “it would be inherent contempt … because we go out and take him and bring him in and have him personally brought to the House.”
“You want to send out a sergeant-at-arms and force the attorney general to come?” Cooper asked, seeming surprised.
“Yes,” Cohen responded. “Because otherwise it is up to the Justice Department. The Justice Department will not do anything to take a contempt citation from us and enforce it against their boss. So you’ve got an impossible situation and it leaves us no alternative except to use our sergeant-at-arms and to bring him in.”
“When you say bring him in, do you actually support the idea of putting him in — are you talking about just having him sit for a hearing or locking him up somehow?” asked the CNN host. (RELATED: CNN Commentator Bites Cohen Over KFC Chicken Stunt)
“You have to have him sit for a hearing and I think you have to have him locked up unless he agree to participate and come to the hearing,” said the Tennessee congressman.
“But do you actually believe that you’re going to — that your committee is going to order the attorney general of the United States be arrested by the sergeant of arms and put in jail?” Cooper asked again.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” Cohen said. “But we can’t just go to the Justice Department. It is meaningless. It shows that we want to hold him in contempt but the fact is he won’t be held in contempt because the Justice Department won’t enforce a contempt citation against their boss. It won’t happen. And Trump and Barr would fire whoever tried to do it.”
After Cohen said the decision was ultimately up to Nadler, Cooper remarked that such a move could be a strategic mistake.
“Isn’t that handing Republicans an incredible thing to point to as Democratic overreach?” he asked.