Barr Just Showed Americans Why They Shouldn’t Trust Him

AG William Barr's dodgy behavior in today's hearing did nothing to assure Americans that he is playing an objective role in redacting Mueller's report.
Attorney General William Barr – 26 February 2019 (Department of Justice)

Attorney General William Barr – 26 February 2019 (Department of Justice)

Today, the House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) held a hearing on the Justice Department’s budget. Since this was Attorney General William Barr’s first appearance since the release of his controversial summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, there were several questions on the investigation.

Multiple reports ahead of the hearing added fuel to the mounting skepticism among Democrats and the American public (as polling indicated). In his 4-page summary of Mueller’s nearly 400-page report, Barr took it upon himself to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice despite the fact that Mueller did not reach a conclusion. Some investigators on Mueller’s team reportedly feel that Barr downplayed their findings. They’ve reportedly told associates that Barr mischaracterized their “alarming and significant” evidence of obstruction of justice. Some on Mueller’s team also reportedly believe that although they did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the evidence of collusion they gathered was “compelling”. Barr also didn’t release the summaries Mueller’s team reportedly drafted for the public to see.

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These concerns drove the questions from many Democrats on the committee. Some key moments during the hearing included when Barr said he will not provide the full unredacted Mueller report to Congress, when he stated he will release a redacted version of the report within a week, when he refused to answer a question about whether President Trump has seen the report, and when he claimed he is reviewing the conduct of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Perhaps most notably, Barr refused to answer a question about whether the White House has been briefed on Mueller’s report. The Attorney General insisted that he won’t talk about the report until it’s released. This is significant because Barr has previously assured the public the White House hadn’t seen the report, but wouldn’t provide that same assurance today. Given Trump’s recent shifts in tone concerning the release of the report, the American people should know if the White House was read in. Later, Barr continued answering questions about the report, which makes this exchange seem even more like a dodge of that specific question.

Barr made some news when he claimed that he offered Mueller the opportunity to review his 4-page summary before he released it and that Mueller declined.

After testifying that the Inspector General investigation into the FISA process will be finished by June, Barr made some waves when he appeared to claim he was going to make a GOP dream come true. Reporting later confirmed that Barr has formed a team for this purpose.

Additionally, there was one response from Barr about hate crimes that raised eyebrows. Rather than acknowledging that hate crimes rose during the Trump administration, Barr claimed to be ignorant of data from his own department that found a 17% rise in hate crimes in 2017. Was Barr trying to protect the image of President Trump?

There was also an interesting moment where Barr apparently indicated that he doesn’t believe the DOJ’s argument that Obamacare should be invalidated will prove to be successful.

Attorney General William Barr’s dodgy behavior did nothing to assure Americans that he is playing an objective role in this process. Barr said he will redact info pertaining to “peripheral” characters that were not charged. How much info will he redact concerning the President? We will see if he delivers a substantial amount of the report to Congress in the coming days or if House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will have to use the subpoena powers his committee voted to authorize.

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News // Collusion / Donald Trump / Obstruction / Robert Mueller / William Barr