Attorney General William Barr Explanation About Handling of Mueller’s Russia Report – Attorney General William Barr, who was repeatedly questioned by lawmakers, made no regrets Wednesday about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Attorney General William Barr Explanation About Handling of Mueller’s Russia Report:
Attorney General William Barr is defending his decision-making of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Barr argued the report was under his purview to decide what information to disclose and when to do so, once the special counsel submitted his findings. “At that point, it was my baby,” Barr told lawmakers in connection with Mueller’s 448-page report.
Mueller’s letter to Congress stated that Barr’s four-page summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions”.
Barr blames “former government officials” for getting “the body politic” in “a high state of agitation” by “confidently predicting that the president and members of his family were going to be indicted,” & cites that as a reason he felt compelled to release his misleading letter.
Barr claims that Mueller was unhappy with press coverage of his letter, not the letter itself.
Bill says he shares Lindsey Graham’s concerns about the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, and agrees with Graham that “the lack of professionalism in the email investigation is something we should look at”
Citing details from the Mueller report about Trump’s interactions with McGahn, Feinstein forces Barr to acknowledge there is in fact evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
Barr makes painstaking distinctions: “There is something very different between firing a special counsel outright, which suggests ending the investigation, and having a special counsel removed for conflict — that suggests you’re going to have another special counsel.”
Barr said, “As a matter of law, I think the department’s position would be that the president can direct determination for the replacement of a special counsel.” He goes on to say he believes that Trump was “falsely accused.”
LEAHY: Did Trump fully cooperate with the investigation?
LEAHY: By telling Sessions to un-recuse himself & shut down the investigation?
BARR: That’s not obstruction
LEAHY: That’s not what I asked
Durbin: “I have been listening carefully to my Republican colleagues & it seems they’re going to coordinate a ‘lock her up’ defense… it is really about Hillary Clinton’s emails… questions have to be asked about Benghazi.”
Barr said, on Mueller: “His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. At that point it was my baby, and I was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public… it was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller’s.”
Chris Coons: Trump asked the White House lawyer to create a false record. Why didn’t you include that in the letter you sent to Congress?
Barr said, “I was focused on releasing the full report at the time.”
Barr said, “I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people. I’m in the business of determining when a crime has been committed.”
Barr said, “There’s no indication that [the Trump campaign] engaged in the conspiracy to hack.” (Trump encouraged Russian hackers to attack Hillary Clinton during a news conference! They tried to do so that very same day!)
Barr admits he did no work of his own before deciding to clear Trump of possible obstruction of justice charges.
Barr said, “I think this whole thing is sort of mind-bendingly bizarre,” about Mueller’s letter.
Attorney General William Barr said, “Once we heard that the special counsel was not reaching a conclusion on obstruction, the Deputy (Attorney General Rod Rosenstein) and I discussed and agreed that the Department had to reach a decision. We had the responsibility to assess the evidence and set forth in the report and make a judgment,” and added, “We concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel’s investigation was not sufficient to conclude the President committed an obstruction of justice offense.”
Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said, “Mr. Barr, I feel that your answer was purposely misleading, and I think others do, too,”
“You said, ‘No, I don’t know,’ after you received this letter. What am I missing?” asked Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
“I talked directly to Bob (Mueller), and Bob told me that he did not have objections to the accuracy,” Barr responded.
“Attorneys don’t put things in writing unless they are pretty serious about them,” Durbin shot back.
Barr appears to be unfamiliar with key parts of the Mueller report, such as Trump’s campaign manager sharing polling data with a Kremlin-connected oligarch.
“We concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr said.
On April 20th, I asked Barr, “Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?” His answer was, “I don’t know whether Mueller supported my conclusion.” We now know Mueller stated his concerns on March 27th, and that Barr totally misled me, the Congress, and the public. He must resign.
This is a scathing letter and makes clear Robert Mueller believes Barr deliberately distorted the special counsel’s findings – and communicated that to the AG more than once. pic.twitter.com/f4nsq9sbVI
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 1, 2019
I’m gravely concerned that the 14 criminal referrals from Special Counsel Mueller related to the investigation are under the supervision & control of AG Barr. He’s virtually disqualified himself to be the kind of person we can expect to stand back & make sure justice is served.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) May 1, 2019
AG Barr is a disgrace, and his alarming efforts to suppress the Mueller report show that he’s not a credible head of federal law enforcement. He should resign—and based on the actual facts in the Mueller report, Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the President.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 1, 2019