If President Donald Trump hoped that by bringing William Barr on as attorney general, he could help steer scrutiny away from his administration — boy has he been proven wrong. At her weekly press conference, this time the day after Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced Barr as an ideological puppet, a liar, and ultimately, a criminal considering it’s been revealed that weeks before he repeatedly told Congress he had no idea what media reports were talking about that suggested Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team dissented with his handling of their Russia probe, he’d received a letter from Mueller himself expressing exactly that concern.
Barr continued on with his belligerence during his appearance before the Senate this week, where he denounced that Mueller letter as “snitty,” among other high-profile points. Pelosi told reporters:
‘How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement official in our country misrepresenting, withholding the truth from the Congress of the United States… There is an ideological anti-governance, anti-science, anti-meeting the needs of the American people… It’s about a right-wing ideological handmaiden… What is deadly serious about is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to Congress. That’s a crime.’
Barr tried to defend himself against the new scrutiny on Wednesday, but to suggest he failed miserably might be an understatement. He claimed that he didn’t actually lie because the relevant media reports identified members of Mueller’s team as up in arms rather than Mueller himself. Speaking to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), his defense was:
‘Well I answered a question, and the question was over unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. I don’t know what that refers to at all.’
Barr’s contention was that Mueller personally had only told him he was concerned about the amount of information that had been released rather than the accuracy of the overall picture.
LEAHY: Why did you testify on April 9 that you didn’t know about the concerns of Mueller’s team, when he had directly informed you of them?
L: Please answer
L: Stop filibustering
B: I answered a question. pic.twitter.com/CYx4jWqpHz
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2019
In other words, Barr has taken leave of his grasp of the English language and how concerns raised by members of Mueller’s team about the accuracy of the portrait he painted of their investigation would cover exactly an extension of what he had personally discussed with Robert Mueller. The best that the attorney general of the United States has got is playing dumb and hairsplitting.
Going forward, a number of prominent Democrats have called on Barr to resign, but there’s no indication he’ll actually do that. Over a refusal to appear before his panel on Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said he’s willing to seek to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. He also refused to comply with a subpoena from the same panel for the full, unredacted Mueller report.
Meanwhile, the 2020 elections are only getting closer, when Americans will have the chance to depose figures like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who’s up for re-election and who Pelosi derided this Thursday as the “Grim Reaper” over his repeated refusal to even consider House Democratic legislation that goes against the GOP’s favorite special interests.
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