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Reports: AG Barr Balking at Testimony Terms

Attorney General Bill Barr's made-for-TV Mueller testimony before the Hill this week may not come off after all.

C-SPAN has been planning to cover the May 2 hearing, and the cable news nets would almost certainly carry some of it live.

But according to various reports, the White House has been pushing back on the terms of Barr's planned testimony before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee.

After concluding that the President did not obstruct justice based on the report submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who punted on that determination citing the Justice Department guidance that a sitting President would not be indicted anyway, Barr had agreed to testify about his conclusion and handling of the report, which came under withering criticism from Democrats.

But the attorney general reportedly balked at a format that would allow committee lawyers to question him as well as members, and a closed-door session to discuss some redacted sections of the report.

Barr has said he would give select members of Congress a less redacted version of the report than the version he released Thursday (April 18).

CNN was reporting Sunday (April 28) that Barr has threatened not to show if the format is not changed, though Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN that Barr would not be dictating terms, and that if necessary he would subpoena Barr. So, the show may go on under duress.

A Justice Department spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.

If Nadler does subpoena Barr, at least he has given notice. The Hill was reporting earlier this month that Justice was proposing to lower the threshold for requesting subpoenas for journalist's records, including eliminating the need to alert a media organization that a subpoena was coming. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.