Attorney General William Barr’s two-day tightrope walk through congressional hearings just got a lot more perilous. Hours before he was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee — the first of two days of hearings on his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — news of Mueller’s own dissatisfaction with Barr leaked out.
Now, the attorney general will face senators armed with evidence that Mueller believed Barr’s efforts to publicly characterize the findings of his 22-month probe misrepresented the substance of the report and undermined public confidence in the investigation.
CBS News reports:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is controlled by Republicans and chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of President Trump. The hearing is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. ET. Democrats have accused Barr of trying to protect Mr. Trump by waiting weeks to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report, and determining the president did not obstruct justice.
Barr, in his prepared statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, does not address those concerns directly. Instead, he defends his handling of the Mueller report and his decision — along with that of soon-to-be-departed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — to clear President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice charges.
Barr defends his decision to make that conclusion — rather than, say, leaving the question open, as Mueller did, or explicitly putting it in the hands of Congress — saying that “it would not have been appropriate for me simply to release Volume II [the obstruction portion] of the report without making a prosecutorial judgment.”
I’ll bump this post to the top at 9:45AM.