Most House Judiciary Dems Have Law Degrees, So Why Do They Need Committee Counsel To Question Barr?

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Posted: May 01, 2019 8:38 PM
Most House Judiciary Dems Have Law Degrees, So Why Do They Need Committee Counsel To Question Barr?

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The House Judiciary Committee has spent the last week calling for Attorney General William Barr to testify about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings in the Russia probe. They've wanted to hear directly from Barr about how he determined no obstruction of justice took place.

In the originally proposed format, Chairman Jerry Nadler wanted each member of the Committee to have five minutes each to ask Barr whatever questions they saw fit in relation to the redacted areas of the report. The second round of questioning would include 30 minutes from each parties' Committee counselors. 

Barr announced on Wednesday he would not be testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee because he objected to the Committee's counsel questioning him. He didn't have issues answering members' questions though.

What's interesting is 15 out of the 24 Democratic members on the Committee have law degrees and most of them practiced law in some capacity before running for Congress. These members of Congress went to highly reputable law schools, like Harvard, University of Michigan and Georgetown.

It would make sense for Congressmen and women to advocate for the Committee's counsel to question Barr over these highly technical legal issues if they don't have a law degree. But when the most loud, vocal members of the Committee, including Chairman Nadler, are lawyers who have clerked and/or practiced law in some capacity, it makes you wonder why they can't ask Barr questions themselves.

Do they not trust their own judgment? Do they not understand the legal definition of "obstruction of justice?" Are they not as familiar with the content of the Mueller report as the Committee's staff counsel? 

It's hard to take this Committee seriously when they talk about subpoenas and holding Barr in contempt of Congress when they can't even do the dirty work themselves.

And in case you're wondering, these are the lawyers on the Committee and their legal experiences:

Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
• J.D. from Fordham University School of Law
• Clerked at Morgan, Finnegan, Pine, Foley and Lee

Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
• J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law
• Former Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County

Ted Lieu (D-CA)
• J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center
• Clerked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
• Practiced civil law at Munger, Tolles & Olson

Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)
• J.D. from University of Pennsylvania
• Had a career in public interest law

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
• J.D. from Santa Clara University
• Practiced immigration law as partner of Webber & Lofgren

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
• J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law
• Served as staff counsel for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations
• Appointed to the City of Houston Municipal Court to serve as Judge 

Hank Johnson (D-GA)
• J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law
• Former criminal and civil litigation attorney at Johnson and Johnson Law Group
• Former Special Master for the Georgia Supreme Court
• Former Associate Judge for the Magistrate Court in DeKalb County

Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
• J.D. from NYU School of Law
• Clerked for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

David Cicilline (D-RI)
• J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center
• Former lawyer for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
• J.D. from Harvard Law School
• Former Assistant Attorney General at the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
• Professor, American University Washington College of Law

Sylvia Garcia (D-TX)
• J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law
• Former presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System
• Served on the Harris County Commissioner's Court

Ted Deutch (D-FL)
• J.D. from University of Michigan Law School

Cedric Richmond (D-LA)
• J.D. from Tulane University School of Law

Greg Stanton (D-AZ)
• J.D. from University Michigan School of Law
• Former education attorney
• Adjunct professor at Arizona Summit Law School

Madeleine Dean (D-PA)
• J.D. from Widener University Delaware Law School
• Practiced law with the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers and eventually became Executive Director of the group
• Served as in-house counsel for her husband's business
• Opened and operated a small law firm
• Assistant English professor at La Salle University