'He lied to Congress,' Democrats close ranks against William Barr
A letter from special counsel Robert Mueller to Attorney General William Barr marked the tone of his Senate hearing, where Democrats and Republicans split between the blind defense of the president and the stunning questioning of those who now believe that Barr lied to Congress.
If you were wondering what President Trump wanted in an Attorney General, the attitude of William Barr in his hearing before the Senate this week might give you an idea.
Since then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation early in the Trump Administration, the president always complained about being "unprotected," as if the figure of Attorney General were that of his personal lawyer.
However, now with a majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats gave no indication of holding back.
The publication of the redacted Mueller report and the subsequent "summary" letters of the Attorney General forced the Senate to summon him to a hearing this week, where Barr proved unmistakably that his ultimate goal was to protect President Trump.
Despite the publication of a letter addressed to Barr and signed by Robert Mueller just days after Barr published his first summary, and in which the special counsel accused him of "having failed to capture the context, the nature, and substance" of his investigation, Barr disqualified the matter before the Senate Judiciary Committee and ensured that the letter could have been written by someone from Mueller's team and not by the counsel himself.
The thing is that, as Democrats emphasized, Barr said only weeks ago to Congress that he didn't know whether Mueller agreed or not with his summary of the investigation.
In any case, it was a lie under oath before the most relevant judicial body in the country.
Similarly, and before the Democratic questioning about the 10 episodes described in the report in which the president had tried to obstruct justice, Barr said that "they were perfectly legal" and, to everyone's surprise, "he said that the president could ask a subordinate to unrecuse himself," as well as "request the removal of Mr. Mueller," according to the New York Times.
Republicans on the committee, in turn, joined in chorus the Attorney General in defending the "exoneration" of the president and diverted the attention of the audience to Trump's long-awaited investigation against the FBI and a supposed plan of "espionage" on his 2016 campaign.
As for the Russian investigation and the obstruction of justice, the Republican senators said: "it's over."
After ensuring that he had no "objection" in Mueller testifying before Congress, Barr complied with answering the questions and decided to be absent from the subsequent hearing, this time before the House Judiciary Committee, headed by the Democrats.
"We will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the Attorney General in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith," said Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, representative of New York. "But the Attorney General must make a choice. Every one of us must make the same choice. That choice is now an obligation of our office."
"The choice is simple: We can stand up to this president in defense of the country and the Constitution we love, or we can let the moment pass us by," he added.
On the other hand, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, accused Barr of "not having told the truth before the Congress of the United States," assuring that "that is a crime."
Barr's refusal to appear before the House Committee thus adds to the wave of lawsuits and obstacles that the White House has headed to prevent Congress from accessing the financial reports of the president, his family, and his organization, as well as to other issues such as the 2020 census and the statements of the Administration's personnel during the Mueller investigation.