House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) said America is now facing a constitutional crisis during a press conference held Wednesday after his committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.
Nadler accused Barr of acting as the "personal attorney" of President Donald Trump and of "not being truthful with Congress." He accused the Justice Department and the White House of opposing "the role of Congress as a coordinate branch of government" and "stonewalling the American people from information."
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"This cannot be. We cannot have a government where all the information is in the executive branch, where the American people and the Congress are stonewalled as to information they need to make decisions and know what's going on," Nadler said. "While this is stonewalling information with respect to the Russian attack on our democracy in 2016, with respect to the president's campaign, cooperation with that attack, to the president's obstructions of justice in seeking to stop the investigation of that attack, it goes far broader than that. It's an attack on the ability of the American people to know what the executive branch is doing and to have responsible government. It is an attack on the essence of our democracy, and we must oppose this with every fiber of our being."
"There can be no higher stakes than this attempt to arrogate all power to the executive branch away from Congress, and more important, away from the American people," he added. "We've talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it. We are now in a constitutional crisis."
Nadler claimed the country is at risk of sliding into tyranny.
"Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government as other republics have over the centuries. We must resist this. This is far broader than Republican or Democratic or even the rights of Congress. This is whether we can put limits on the power of the president, any president, and an executive branch, and hold the president, any president, accountable. That's what's at stake here. We cannot flinch and we will not flinch," Nadler said.
A reporter asked Nadler why Democrats are "resistant to moving forward with impeachment" if the country is truly in the midst of a constitutional crisis.
"Well, I'm not going to talk about impeachment but the short answer is, that may not be the best answer in this constitutional crisis. There are a lot of considerations for that and that may not be the best answer for this constitutional crisis," Nadler responded.
Prior to the press conference, the House Judiciary Committee advanced a measure to the House floor which would hold Barr in contempt of Congress. House Democrats are seeking to hold the attorney general in contempt for not complying with the Judiciary Committee's subpoena for the unredacted Mueller Report and its underlying evidence.