What are the US House of representatives rules on holding a non-cooperating witness in contempt of congress?
Contempt of Congress:
Contempt of Congress is the act of obstructing the work of the United States Congress or one of its committees. ... In modern times, contempt of Congress has generally applied to the refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by a Congressional committee or subcommittee—usually seeking to compel either testimony or the production of requested documents.
There are different procedures for Inherent contempt, Statutory proceedings, and Civil procedures.
With statutory proceedings, deciding that a person shall be held in contempt of Congress is a process with hearings, resolutions, votes, etc., that results in a report, providing the facts, delivered to the Speaker of the House. The Speaker then sends the information to a United States Attorney for a decision by a grand jury. The United States Attorney may not necessarily present the case to a grand jury, for example, the contempt charge against A.G. Eric Holder never went to a grand jury.
The Congressional Research Service has a very detailed report: Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure (89 pages). The section The Holder Contempt (pp. 44-51), concerning documents related to Operation Fast and Furious and executive privilege, is detailed from the beginning to (almost the) end.
Barr Was Just Held in Contempt, as the Case Against Eric Holder Settles, May 8, 2019, reports the case against A.G. Holder has been settled; but not to the satisfaction of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia.
Here is a summary example of the initiation of contempt against Attorney General Barr.
H.Res. 430 was introduced June 6, 2019 and agreed to on June 11, 2019.
The Committee on Rules held a hearing on June 10, 2019. (Details omitted.)
The resolution H.Res. 430 (in part):
H. Res. 430
Resolved, That the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives is authorized, on behalf of such Committee, to initiate or intervene in any judicial proceeding before a Federal court—
(1) to seek declaratory judgments and any and all ancillary relief, including injunctive relief, affirming the duty of—
(A) William P. Barr, Attorney General, to comply with the subpoena that is the subject of the resolution accompanying House Report 116–105; and
(B) Donald F. McGahn, II, former White House Counsel, to comply with the subpoena issued to him on April 22, 2019; and
(2) to petition for disclosure of information regarding any matters identified in or relating to the subpoenas referred to in paragraph (1) or any accompanying report, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), including Rule 6(e)(3)(E) (providing that the court may authorize disclosure of a grand-jury matter “preliminarily to * * * a judicial proceeding”).
The report (in part):
RESOLUTION RECOMMENDING THAT THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FIND WILLIAM P. BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE, IN CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS FOR REFUSAL TO COMPLY WITH A
SUBPOENA DULY ISSUED BY THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
The Committee on the Judiciary, having considered this Report, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the Report be approved.
The form of Resolution that the Committee on the Judiciary would recommend to the House of Representatives for citing William P. Barr, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, for contempt of Congress pursuant to this Report is as follows:
Resolved, That William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States, shall be found to be in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional subpoena.
Resolved, That pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §§ 192 and 194, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall certify the report of the Committee on the Judiciary, detailing the refusal of William P. Barr, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, to produce documents to the Committee on the Judiciary as directed by subpoena, to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, to the end that Mr. Barr be proceeded against in the manner and form provided by law.
Resolved, That the Speaker of the House shall otherwise take all appropriate action to enforce the subpoena.
A PDF of the final report is available.
Following is the text from the referenced code:
2 U.S. Code § 192.Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers
Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.
[The maximum fine is now $100,000.]
2 U.S. Code § 194.Certification of failure to testify or produce; grand jury action
Whenever a witness summoned as mentioned in section 192 of this title fails to appear to testify or fails to produce any books, papers, records, or documents, as required, or whenever any witness so summoned refuses to answer any question pertinent to the subject under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee or subcommittee of either House of Congress, and the fact of such failure or failures is reported to either House while Congress is in session or when Congress is not in session, a statement of fact constituting such failure is reported to and filed with the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House, it shall be the duty of the said President of the Senate or Speaker of the House, as the case may be, to certify, and he shall so certify, the statement of facts aforesaid under the seal of the Senate or House, as the case may be, to the appropriate United States attorney, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.