Wednesday, May 1, 2019

AG Barr's 3 strikes: lying about Mueller's report, lying to Congress, lying at his press conference

Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Attorney General William Barr lied, lied, and lied again about the findings of Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Not only did we think that, but Mueller himself thought it too, sending a letter to Barr objecting to his characterization of the special counsel's principal findings. Barr wrote his initial "summarization" letter on March 24. On March 27, Mueller reportedly wrote back to effectively say, You lied and you're ruining our country.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Right. You lied. But after that first infraction and a follow-up warning shot from Mueller, Barr just kept lying. At a Senate hearing on April 10, Barr suggested he had no earthly idea what Mueller thought of his original summarization.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen: "Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?"

Barr: "I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion."

Van Hollen has now called on Barr to resign. That was Barr's second lie. Then, just before releasing the redacted report on April 18, Barr brazenly held a press conference where he once again doubled down on his original lies. He said that Mueller's report found "no collusion" between Team Trump and the Kremlin, that Mueller did not take into consideration the Justice Department's standing policy of not indicting sitting presidents when declining to charge Trump with obstruction, and that Trump was incredibly cooperative with Mueller's investigation despite the fact that Mueller outlined multiple instances when Trump tried to shut it down.

At that pre-release press conference, Barr was asked if Mueller had invited him to make a final determination on whether Trump obstructed justice. "I didn't talk to [Mueller] directly about the fact that we were making the decision but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as AG to make that decision," he responded. File that away for now.

Barr also got very pissy when asked why Mueller wasn't standing alongside him during the press conference, since it was Mueller's report, after all.

"No, it’s not," Barr retorted. "It’s a report he did for me, as the attorney general. He is required under the regulation to — to provide me with a confidential report. I’m here to discuss my response to that report and my decision — entirely discretionary — to make it public, since these reports are not supposed to be made public." He then ended the press conference pretty abruptly.

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