House Judiciary Committee leaves empty chair for Barr after he refuses to testify

An empty chair for Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question MORE sat in a committee room on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Barr had informed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he would not testify at the Thursday hearing.

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A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that the committee's Democratic chairman placed "unprecedented and unnecessary" conditions on the hearing by arranging to have committee lawyers ask him questions. The DOJ argued that only members of Congress should be asking questions.

The chairman, Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWant the truth? Put your money on Bill Barr, not Jerry Nadler From abortion to obstruction, politicians' hypocrisy is showing Watergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers MORE (D-N.Y.), in turn accused Barr of "trying to blackmail the committee" to operate the way the administration wanted.

"The Committee will convene at 9:00 tomorrow morning, as planned," Nadler said in a statement. "My colleagues will be present. I hope and expect that Attorney General Barr will be there as well.”

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenJon Stewart excoriates lawmakers for skipping hearing on 9/11 victim fund Jon Stewart excoriates lawmakers for skipping hearing on 9/11 victim fund Democrats begin Mueller hearings with Watergate-era witness MORE (D-Tenn.) also brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, as well as a fake chicken, into the hearing room in a statement directed at Barr.

Barr was slated to answer questions about the findings and his own summary of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's Russia investigation. He spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. 

— Updated 9:13 a.m.