Rep. Ted Lieu: Trump Administration Is Hiding Information From The American People


Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu told CNN's Don Lemon Monday night that

CNN'S DON LEMON: The House Judiciary Committee and the DOJ, DOJ officials will meet tomorrow to try to reach a deal on the un-redacted Mueller report. Barr missed the Monday deadline to hand over the report. Democrats are set to vote on holding Barr in contempt of Congress. Democrat Congressman Ted Lieu is here. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee. So let's get some answers from him, see what their next moves are, Congressman, good evening.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Don.

LEMON: Is there any hope that your committee and DOJ officials can reach a deal on getting the full un-redacted Mueller report tomorrow?

LIEU: Thanks for your question. Let me first say the Trump administration is hiding information from American people and stonewalling Congress at every turn. And if they're going to bring a flame thrower to this knife fight, then my view is we have to do the same. We have to fight fire with fire, and have all our options on the table.

One of them is contempt. I hope we don't have to use it this Wednesday, but we will if we must. And if Attorney General Bill Barr doesn't provide the un-redacted Mueller report, we're going to hold him in contempt this Wednesday.

LEMON: OK. So let's talk about that, because you said on Wednesday you're going to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

LIEU: That's absolutely correct.

LEMON: What do you do? Is that just symbolic, will it make a difference to an administration that is stonewalling you at every turn? I mean they're just going to say OK, fine, in contempt. What does that going to do? Now what?

LIEU: So it's not just symbolic, which is why you see the Department of Justice now trying to negotiate a way out of this. Once the Judiciary Committee holds Bill Barr in contempt, we send it to the House floor. If the House votes to hold Barr in contempt, it triggers two things. We can go to court and litigate the issue. And second, it also triggers inherent contempt powers Congress has where we can take actions against individuals without having to go to court.

LEMON: OK, so inherent contempt, which could mean a fine or even jail time for the attorney general. Do you think it will go that far?

LIEU: So you're absolutely right. In the past, Congress has imprisoned people for violating congressional subpoenas. I don't think we're going to go that far. But certainly, the matter of leveraging fines on people who disobey and disregard lawful subpoenas that would be a possibility. It should not be our first option, but we need to absolutely consider doing that if the Trump administration simply keeps ignoring Congress' subpoenas at every turn.

LEMON: So he doesn't want -- the president says he doesn't want Mueller to testify, but now an official is saying it was just an opinion, telling CNN it was just an opinion. Is the committee on track to bring in the Special Counsel on May 15th?

LIEU: So we are actually negotiating with Special Counsel Mueller's folks directly. You see the Department of Justice and Trump's advisers backtracking on what Donald Trump actually said, because they know there is actually no legal reason to keep Robert Mueller from testifying before Congress. Prior special prosecutors like Leon Jaworski, during Watergate, and Ken Starr during the Clinton administration, both testified in front of Congress, so should Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well.

LEMON: So can you just clarify this for us? Mueller is still a DOJ employee, right?

LIEU: That is my understanding. I am not exactly sure why he still is.

LEMON: I was asking rhetorical, all right. So then what will your committee do if the attorney general blocks him from testifying because he's still an employee of the DOJ, which means that Barr is his boss?

LIEU: That is correct. We could still issue a subpoena for anyone that's to come before Congress and testify, whether or not they are an employee of the Department of Justice or any other federal agency. We hope we don't have to do that. We believe that not just Democrats but also Republicans want to hear Robert Mueller testify. And in addition, the American people need to hear Robert Mueller testify.

LEMON: OK. So listen, the Treasury Secretary, and you know this, Steve Mnuchin refusing to hand over the president's taxes, do you think he should be held in contempt of Congress?

LIEU: So right now, Steve Mnuchin is violating the law. There is a statute on the books that very clearly says that the tax returns of the president shall be provided to the House Ways and Means chairman if he so requests, and our chairman has made that request. So there is really no way around this. This is black letter law. It's plain as day.

And I don't see how Steve Mnuchin can come up with this decision to violate the law. So Congress is going to litigate this, and we will win that court case.

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