The House Judiciary Committee just voted to hold Barr in contempt. Here's what happens next.

William Barr.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee has just voted in favor of holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. So how big of a deal is that, and what happens next?

After Wednesday's vote, which came as President Trump asserted executive privilege over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report, the entire House of Representatives now has to take a vote on the contempt resolution.

Should the House pass it, ABC News explains, the contempt citation would be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, at which point it would likely not go any further into prosecution. For this reason, CNN notes, the contempt citation won't actually change much, though it's a dramatic escalation of the fight between Congress and the Trump administration.

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None of this is unprecedented, exactly. During former President Barack Obama's administration, then Attorney General Eric Holder was also held in contempt of Congress after withholding documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. There was plenty of Republican outrage as the contempt resolution was passed, but in the end, Holder was not prosecuted, and he remained in office.

However, Vox notes that what would be more significant is if Congress passes a resolution to proceed with a lawsuit against Barr to obtain the unredacted Mueller report, during which Barr could be held in contempt of court. That could be next, meaning that although Wednesday's vote on its own is not exactly Earth-shattering, the fight is likely far from over.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.