Attorney General William Bar testified before Congress today and it didn’t exactly go as well as the administration might have hoped. As Democrats grilled the Trump appointee about his handling of the Mueller report it became more and more clear that his loyalty is first and foremost to the president when it should be the people of the United States. He came across like someone who sees himself as an attorney for Donald Trump rather than the highest law enforcement official in the country.
We now know that Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent a letter to Barr after the AG released his brief summary of the official Russia investigation report. In it, Mueller said that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”
The charitable interpretation is that Barr simply made a mistake, but the obvious and far more reasonable explanation is that he intentionally summarized the report in such a way as to make Trump look better than he deserved. Barr’s refusal to pursue obstruction of justice against the president despite Mueller pointing out ten separate incidents which may have constituted obstruction is another egregious dereliction of duty.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), one of the leading candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, shredded Barr during the proceedings, bringing her history as a prosecutor to bear against him. She managed to get him to admit that he decided against obstruction charges without examing the underlying evidence.
This was a big moment: Sen. Kamala Harris got Barr to admit that he decided not to charge Trump with obstruction—perhaps the most consequential DOJ decision since Watergate—without examining any of the underlying evidence pic.twitter.com/v9lyke0HZE
— Mark Follman (@markfollman) May 1, 2019
On top of that, Harris forced him to squirm, equivocate, and come across guilty as sin when he refused to give her a straight answer as to whether or not the White House ever asked him to open investigations into anyone. Each additional question from a Democrat burned through another layer of Barr’s embattled credibility.
.@SenKamalaHarris: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone?
BARR: ….. ah …..
HARRIS: Seems like something you should be able to answer
BARR: I don't know ……. pic.twitter.com/8FIqrGzSrm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2019
Despite all of this, Barr is unrepentant and even took a somewhat oblique at Robert Mueller. The attorney general described Mueller’s letter to his office as “snitty” and added that it was “probably written by a staff person.”
Of course, there’s no real reason to think that Mueller didn’t pen the letter himself. Barr is simply raising the possibility to instill doubt about the Special Counsel’s opinion of his behavior. It’s a cheap, transparent ploy on the part of Barr, and if he continues down this road it’s only a matter of time before Mueller is called to testify and spells out exactly what he thinks, which could be very, very bad for Donald Trump and his new favored lackey.