One of the big takeaways from the first day of the testimony of Bill Barr concerns a number of failures that may be attributed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The most significant failure concerns his decision not to reach a conclusion on obstruction, as I discussed in today’s column. With an hour of the release of the Report, I criticized Mueller for his decision not to reach a conclusion which has no basis in law or policy. The only question was whether Mueller had been told not to reach such a conclusion. Barr answered that questions today in no uncertain terms. Not only could Mueller reach a conclusion, both Barr and Rosenstein pressed him to do so. Mueller’s decision remains both unsupported and incomprehensible. And that is not all that Mueller will have to explain.
Barr understandably said today that he still does not understand Mueller’s rationale for not reaching a decision and questioned what Mueller thought he was supposed to do as a special counsel. What is weird is that Barr and Rosenstein made clear that they did believe Mueller could and should reach a decision. That should have resolved any question as to DOJ policy.
Another glaring revelation from Barr was that he and Rosenstein expressly and repeatedly told Mueller to identify grand jury or Rule 6(e) material in his report to allow a rapid public release of the report. Barr said that he was surprised when Mueller simply ignored that request from his superiors. The result was a longer period for the public release of the report.
A third disclosure was that Mueller spoke to Barr and expressly said that he did not view the summary letter to be misleading or false. That is categorically in conflict with the media coverage over the last 24 hours claiming that Mueller believed Barr “lied” or “misled: the public. Barr said that Mueller stated clearly that he wanted the executive summaries released to help explain why he did not reach a conclusion.
Finally, Barr said that Mueller repeatedly told him and Rosenstein that his decision not to reach a conclusion on obstruction was not due to the Office of Legal Counsel memos barring the indictment of a sitting president. That is also in direct contradiction with ongoing coverage and runs contrary to the discussion of the OLC by the Special Counsel in his report. It also makes senses because, as I have written, there is nothing in those memos that even remotely suggests that a Special Counsel cannot reach a conclusion on criminal conduct.
If true, Barr is clearly more sinned against than sinner in all of this. Regardless, we have to hear from Mueller and he has much ‘splaining to do.
273 thoughts on “Barr Testimony: Mueller May Have Some ‘Splainin’ To Do”
In regard to point 3, not only did the later letter by Muller not criticize the Attorney General’s office for the messaging in the memo, it clearly criticized the press for making statements and claims about the investigation and report that were totally false. And most of the press even botched the reporting of the content of Muller’s memo!
My biggest unanswered question is: When did Muller realize that President Trump was not guilty of any of the allegations made against him?
I don’t think it took him two years to reach that conclusion. I don’t think it took much more than a few days to reach that conclusion. Ye he went through the motions of acting as if there was something there, for a period of two years, including hiring a bunch of political hacks like Andrew Weissman and Ginny Ree (I may have misspelled those names; if so, that is not intentional. I am identifying them based upon the phonetics of the pronunciations from radio and television reports.), who have long ties to the Clinton cabal. Weissman attended the Hillary Clinton election-night funeral, while Ree was the lead attorney for the Clinton Family Foundation.
Other ethically-challenged investigators included Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who both participated in the Hillary Clinton investigation. How can it be that the FBI doesn’t have more than two investigators, that both of them end up investigating BOTH cases?
I may have ended up in the weeds here, but my primary question remains. And I think the answer would be important.
Lioness plays with her plump and hobbled prey:
L4D says, “Yup.”
Some do not seem to understand the difference between offense and defense. In a hearing such as this the offense has the advantage of attacking with weapons while the defense is only permitted to defend from those weapons and unable to throw weapons in return. Though Kamala seemed to do her job well, when one dissects what was said one can see that Barr more than adequately defended his position and demonstrated here and elsewhere the weakness of the Democratic position.
That being said why don’t you highlight the spot where you think the offense destroyed Barr. It should be totally clear because the offense had the weapon of choice and the defense could only respond with whit and truth.
Since you have noted how you are able to deal with substance I await some of that now.
Lynch? Wasn’t she the one who let Croney Comey push her around and dictate how she should think or was that his Boss Comrade Clinton?
A Real Attorney General
Bill Barr gets smeared for refusing to duck and cover like Loretta Lynch.
Washington pile-ons are never pretty, but this week’s political setup of Attorney General William Barr is disreputable even by Beltway standards. Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that special counsel Robert Mueller abdicated.
Mr. Barr’s Wednesday testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was preceded late Tuesday by the leak of a letter Mr. Mueller had sent the AG on March 27. Mr. Mueller griped in the letter that Mr. Barr’s four-page explanation to Congress of the principal conclusions of the Mueller report on March 24 “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller team’s “work and conclusions.” Only in Washington could this exercise in posterior covering be puffed into a mini-outrage.
Democrats leapt on the letter as proof that Mr. Barr was somehow covering for Donald Trump when he has covered up nothing. Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, the Democratic answer to Rep. Louie Gohmert, accused Mr. Barr of abusing his office and lying to Congress, and demanded that he resign. The only thing she lacked was evidence.
Mr. Barr’s four-page letter couldn’t possibly have covered all the nuances of a 448-page report. It was an attempt to provide Mr. Mueller’s conclusions to Congress and the public as quickly as possible, while he took the time to work through the entire document to make redactions required by law and Justice Department rules.
This is exactly what he promised to do in his confirmation hearing. Even Mr. Mueller’s complaining letter admits that Mr. Barr’s letter wasn’t inaccurate, a fact Mr. Barr says Mr. Mueller also conceded in a subsequent phone call. The Mueller complaint, rather, was that there was “public confusion about critical aspects” of his investigation.
Translation: Republicans were claiming vindication for Donald Trump, and Mr. Mueller was taking hits in the press for not nailing the worst President in history. Having been hailed for months as a combination of Eliot Ness and St. Thomas More, Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors seem to have been unnerved by some bad press clips.
Mr. Barr told the Senate Wednesday that he offered Mr. Mueller the chance to review his four-page letter before sending it to Congress, but the special counsel declined. Mr. Mueller worked for Mr. Barr, and that was the proper time to offer suggestions or disagree. Instead, Mr. Mueller ducked that responsibility and then griped in an ex-post-facto letter that was conveniently leaked on the eve of Mr. Barr’s testimony. Quite the stand-up guy.
Mr. Barr has since released the full Mueller report with minor redactions, as he promised, and with the “context” intact. Keep in mind Mr. Barr was under no legal obligation to release anything at all. Mr. Mueller reports only to Mr. Barr, not to the country or Congress.
Mr. Barr has also made nearly all of the redactions in the report available to senior Members of Congress to inspect at Justice. Yet as of this writing, only three Members have bothered—Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and ranking House Republican on Judiciary Doug Collins. Not one Democrat howling about Mr. Barr’s lack of transparency has examined the outrages they claim are hidden.
Democrats are also upset that Mr. Barr concluded that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice regarding the Russia probe. But in that decision too Mr. Barr was behaving as an Attorney General should. Mr. Mueller compiled a factual record but shrank from a “prosecutorial judgment.” Mr. Barr then stepped up and made the call, however unpopular with Democrats and the press.
Contrast that to the abdication of Loretta Lynch, who failed as Barack Obama’s last Attorney General to make a prosecutorial judgment about Hillary Clinton’s misuse of classified information. Ms. Lynch cowered before the bullying of then FBI director James Comey, who absolved Mrs. Clinton of wrongdoing while publicly scolding her. That egregious break with Justice policy eventually led Mr. Comey to re-open the Clinton probe in late October 2016, which helped to elect Mr. Trump.
All of this shows again the risks of appointing special counsels. They lack the political accountability that the Founders built into the separation of powers. Mr. Mueller, in his March 27 letter, revealed again that like Mr. Comey at the FBI he viewed himself as accountable only to himself.
This trashing of Bill Barr shows how frustrated and angry Democrats continue to be that the special counsel came up empty in his Russia collusion probe. He was supposed to be their fast-track to impeachment. Now they’re left trying to gin up an obstruction tale, but the probe wasn’t obstructed and there was no underlying crime. So they’re shouting and pounding the table against Bill Barr for acting like a real Attorney General.
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