Bringing a rubber chicken to a Senate fight didn't work out that great from Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, which perhaps played a role in his dramatic escalation of rhetoric on Friday in an unbelievable CNN interview. He could have been trying to regain some sense of being taken seriously.
Cohen pulled his chicken stunt after Attorney General William Barr refused to show up for testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrat in the Senate pummeled Barr Wednesday over whether his summary of the Mueller report that he released was representative of that report. Which he released.
The House committee was set for their own hearing on Thursday, but after they announced they would have staff lawyers grill the Attorney General. The Justice Department called the plan "inappropriate" and the AG did not appear.
When Barr didn't show, Cohen put on a show, using a rubber chicken and a bucket of KFC fried chicken to call Barr a … chicken. It didn't come off as clever as he hoped, and he was made fun of even on the Dem side and late night TV.
During that Tennessee-fried fiasco, other Democrats were increasing their level of indignation over the situation, and the mainstream press, including Kasie Hunt on MSNBC and Wolf Blitzer on CNN, were asking Democrats whether they intend to put the Attorney General of the United States in jail for contempt of congress. Chairman of the committee Sen. Jerry Nadler has given Barr until Monday to comply with subpoenas.
All of which culminated in the below interview on CNN, where Steve Cohen tells Anderson Cooper that the Senate will have to send the sergeant-at-arms to apprehend and drag the Attorney General before the committee or lock him in a cell.
That's not hyperbole. This is a thing that Rep. Cohen repeated several times. Watch.
"So Chairman Nadler talked about moving to contempt proceedings if the Attorney General doesn't comply. What does that — what would that actually look like?" Cooper asked.
"Well I hope it would be inherent contempt, because in inherent contempt we'd go out and take him, and bring him in, and have him personally brought to the House," said Cohen.
Surprised, Cooper asked, "You actually want to send out the sergeant-at-arms and force the attorney general to come?"
"Yes," said Cohen without hesitation. "Because otherwise, it is up to the Justice Department. The Justice Department will not do anything to take a contempt citation from us and enforce it against their boss. So you got an impossible situation there and it leaves us no other alternative except to use our sergeant-at-arms and to bring him in. "
"He's being utterly contemptuous to Congress," said Cohen.
"So when you say bring him in are you, do you, actually.. Actually support the idea of, I mean, putting him in... Are you talking about just having him sit for a hearing or locking him up somehow?" Cooper stammered rather incredulously.
Again Cohen said that, yes, he means literally having the sergeant-at-arms take Barr into custody and locking him up.
Cooper then asked again, "but do you actually believe that you're going to — that your committee is going to order the Attorney General of the United States to be arrested by the sergeant of arms and put in jail?"
Cohen said he doesn't know what they'll do but that the Justice Department won't enforce any contempt charge against the AG, and passed off the decision as ultimately belonging to the committee chair, Nadler.
Cooper asked Coihen "if it actually to you sending the sergeant-at-arms, your committee sending the sergeant of arms to apprehend and arrest the Attorney General, isn't that handing Republicans an incredible thing to point to as Democratic overreach?"
There was no real answer from Cohen on that.
But yes. The answer is yes.