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

An empty chair for Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAttorney General Barr's license to kill Medical examiner confirms Epstein death by suicide Justice Dept. says Mueller report has been downloaded 800 million times 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 NadlerGOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death French officials call for investigation of Epstein 'links with France' 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 CohenHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill 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 MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE's Russia investigation. He spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. 

— Updated 9:13 a.m.