Top Republican on House Judiciary Committee says he doesn't think Barr should testify

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGOP lawmaker: Schiff should be first witness Republicans call to testify in impeachment inquiry Hillicon Valley: Google buying Fitbit for .1B | US launches national security review of TikTok | Twitter shakes up fight over political ads | Dems push committee on 'revenge porn' law Progressives urge end to mass phone data collection program MORE (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he wouldn't encourage Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrImpeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship Democratic senators seek documents on Trump's alleged call for Barr press conference The Hill's Morning Report — Bloomberg news shakes up 2020 race MORE to show up for Thursday’s scheduled hearing because of how he was treated by Democrats in the panel. 

A source familiar with the matter later confirmed to The Hill that Barr is not expect to come before the House panel on Thursday. 

“No, I do not [think Barr will attend the hearing] — and I don't encourage him to,” Collins told The Hill earlier. "If you saw the abuse of power from the chairman [Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerAs impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom' What this 'impeachment' is really about — and it's not the Constitution Trump officials weigh adding more countries to travel ban list: report MORE (D-N.Y.)] this morning in the committee hearing, I think that is something that is very disturbing and should be disturbing to all members."

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Barr was grilled for four hours on Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE's report on Russia. His appearance came a day after the explosive revelation that Mueller had criticized the attorney general’s summary of his report.

Barr has been called to testify in front of the House Judiciary panel on Thursday, but he has appeared to rule out coming after Democrats pushed to also have staff lawyers question him.

After it was confirmed Barr would not testify, Collins released a statement casting blame on Democrats for his decision not to attend. 

“It’s a shame Members of the House Judiciary Committee won’t get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing. The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow," the statement read.
 
“By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed," he added. "Ultimately, though, they’re ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who want Congress to move on and secure our border and continue to strengthen our economy.”

Earlier, the panel, in a contentious hearing, had voted along party lines to move forward with Democrats’ call to allow for an additional half-hour round of questioning from committee counsels — a move Republicans argue is unprecedented and out of line.

During the hearing, Collins accused Democrats of treating Barr "like trash" ahead of his scheduled testimony.

When talking to The Hill, Collins also said Judiciary Republicans do not object to Mueller appearing before the committee, adding that Democrats opted to vote down an amendment introduced by Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzSchiff told Gaetz to 'absent yourself' in fiery exchange: impeachment transcript Do Republicans understand the Constitution? Ocasio-Cortez: 'Major crime' against Katie Hill will deter other female candidates MORE (R-Fla.) that would have brought the special counsel in to testify in place of Barr on Thursday.

“We've already asked Mueller to testify, we're pretty easy on it,” he said. “Of course, right now I can't get my chairman to get off the sideshow theatrics to actually want to do an oversight hearing."

"He gave up his chance right now to have Mueller come tomorrow, because he simply wants to try and make a point of impeachment when they won't have the ability to actually pass and put an impeachment resolution on the table," Collins added.

Top Republicans have been vocal in their defense of Barr amid Democrats’ accusations he attempted to spin the report to protect President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE.

Barr said he would not pursue an obstruction of justice case against President Trump when issuing a four-page summary of the Mueller report.

Mueller then wrote a private letter to the Department of Justice contesting aspects of the summary, according to media reports.

Collins said he felt Mueller's letter was “disingenuous in the way that was reported,” adding he believes the friction between Mueller and Barr was mischaracterized.  

"Frankly, I think it’s a reporter's take on the letter that is pushing an agenda that basically tried to show that there was a larger disagreement between Mueller and Barr, and when you actually read the letter, it actually said that there was a disagreement on how it was being put out — not that the conclusions were different,” he said.

-- Updated at 6:16 p.m.