Fox News’ Tucker Carlson believes it is “fascist” to suggest a political opponent belongs in jail.
On Monday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson warned about the supposed dangers of Democrats’ threats to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee.
“These people are fascist,” Carlson proclaimed in response to footage of Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) calling for Barr to be imprisoned, a possible — but unlikely — discipline for contempt of Congress.
“Lock him up! Send him to jail!” the Fox News host said in an effort to mock these Democratic lawmakers, with no apparent sense of irony.
With the support of Carlson’s network, President Donald Trump has made threats to prosecute political opponents a staple of his administration and campaign. Trump continues to encourage “Lock her up!” chants about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at rallies, more than two years after the 2016 election. The president has urged his Justice Department to investigate Clinton and other Democrats in numerous tweets. Trump also suggested recently that Barr should look into launching probes connected to Clinton, former President Barack Obama, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Barr is facing potential contempt of Congress charges after refusing to comply with a subpoena demanding the full, unredacted report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report did not find evidence of criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but laid out the extensive ties between the two sides, as well as at least 10 instances involving Trump that may have constituted obstruction of justice.
The document was lightly redacted before being made public last month — and though the Justice Department at the time offered a small number of lawmakers the opportunity to see a less-redacted version, Democrats rejected that offer, because it would have prohibited them from speaking about what they saw.
Barr has been accused of misleading Congress and the public about the report’s findings since giving his initial summary of the report in March. At the time, he claimed the report was a total vindication for Trump and cleared him of any wrongdoing. Mueller initially voiced concerns about that messaging, writing twice to Barr to express frustration that his summary had left out context crucial to understanding the full nature of the report. Barr ignored Mueller and continued to frame the report this way to the public regardless.
Trump’s attorney general testified before the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, but balked at House Democrats’ plan to let staff attorneys ask questions in a separate hearing later. Ultimately, Barr refused to testify altogether, further fueling tensions between the two camps.
(Republicans notably hired outside counsel to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford regarding her sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year.)
House Judiciary chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has said Democrats will begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Barr if his committee doesn’t receive the unredacted version of Mueller’s report by Wednesday morning.
It is unlikely that Trump’s Justice Department would pursue a House Democrat’s request for criminal contempt charges against Barr. Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress by the GOP-led House over the so-called “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal in 2012, but Obama’s Justice Department didn’t pursue criminal charges.
House Democrats could vote to invoke a separate inherent contempt power, in which the chamber’s sergeant-at-arms can detain an individual to compel cooperation with Congress. However, inherent contempt power hasn’t been exercised in nearly 90 years.