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Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary split on how to address domestic extremism George Floyd police reform bill reintroduced in House Nadler presses DOJ to prosecute all involved in Capitol riot MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he is considering moving to hold Corey LewandowskiCorey LewandowskiTrump likely to form new super PAC Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief ousts hundreds from advisory panels | Defense pick discusses Trump transition hurdles | Aircraft carrier returning home after 10-month deployment Defense secretary removes hundreds of advisory board members in sweeping review MORE in contempt after the former Trump campaign chairman declined to answer a series of questions related to his appearances in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's report.

"Mr. Lewandowski, your behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable. It is part of a pattern of a White House desperate for the American people not to hear the truth," Nadler said after committee members concluded their questioning.

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"I’ve been asked several times today whether the committee will hold you in contempt. It is certainly under consideration," Nadler said, to which Lewandowski raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips.

But despite the frustration that steamed from the Judiciary hearing room, Democrats say their real focus is on the man in the Oval Office.

Nadler telegraphed this outlook by describing the White House limiting Lewandowski's testimony as "a far more troubling contempt on display today."

"There is a far more troubling contempt on display today, and that is President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE’s role in your refusal to answer questions," Nadler said. "The pattern of obstruction laid out in the Mueller report has not stopped."

Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineHouse passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (D-R.I.) first proposed holding Lewandowski in contempt during the hearing. Other members also voiced support for such a move.

The remarks came after Democrats tussled for more than five hours with Lewandowski over his involvement in a possible obstruction episode as laid out in Mueller's report. In particular, they sought to have the longtime Trump ally answer questions about Trump asking Lewandowski to pass along a message to then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsManchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation MORE in 2017 that urged him to reverse his recusal and set limits on the Russia probe.

Lewandowski ultimately turned to then-White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver the letter. Dearborn did not ultimately follow through, telling investigators that the request made him uncomfortable. 

While the White House made the unprecedented step late Monday night in seeking to limit the testimony of Lewandowski by claiming discussions outside what is laid out in the Mueller report fall under "Executive Branch confidentiality interests," Lewandowski went further and declined to answer questions about his conversations with the president, which he claimed were also privileged. 

Democrats and legal experts have refuted this claim, stating that Lewandowski did not work in the White House and is therefore outside the claims of executive privilege.

The Trump administration also blocked former White House aides Rob Porter and Dearborn from testifying, citing claims of immunity, a move that follows the administration's game plan of blocking the testimony of former and current administration officials. House Democrats are seeking to challenge the White House claims of immunity in court.

The hearing, which quickly devolved into chaos, did not yield new information for Democrats, who are conducting a sprawling investigation into obstruction, public corruption and other abuses of power.