Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talks to the media at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 2. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Doing her best to raise the level of civility in Washington, Nancy Pelosi called William Barr a liar on Thursday. The House Speaker even accused the Attorney General of committing a “crime” when he testified to Congress about a memo he issued outlining the main conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The Speaker says the AG lied last month when he said he didn’t know what members of the special counsel’s team were referencing when they complained his memo didn’t accurately portray their findings. Mr. Barr said he didn’t know but that “they probably wanted more put out.” At most this is a small evasion. Mr. Barr had talked to Mr. Mueller, who had told him nothing in the AG’s summary was inaccurate and was unspecific in his objections beyond wanting more of his report released. The AG should have anticipated that Mr. Mueller’s March 27 letter to him would leak, but he didn’t lie about its contents.
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The real reason for Mrs. Pelosi’s slander is what else Mr. Barr said the last time he was before Congress. He said that spying on a political campaign was a “big deal,” that he thought the FBI did spy on the Trump campaign in 2016, and that he intends to find out what happened and why. Democrats want to intimidate him to drop this or discredit him before he can release his findings.
The FBI’s former deputy director Andrew McCabe and former counsel James Baker are under criminal investigation, the former for lying to federal investigators and the latter for leaks to the press. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney John Huber is investigating the FBI surveillance of former Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
There are also criminal referrals from Congress. These include one regarding dossier author Christopher Steele from Senate Judiciary Members Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.); one on former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr from the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Mark Meadows (R., N.C.); and another from Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) of the House Intelligence Committee that includes eight people whose names are not public because the referral involves classified information.
Also potentially illuminating will be a pending report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into possible Justice and FBI abuses of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants.
In Mr. Barr, America now has an Attorney General who isn’t crippled by recusal from the most critical issues involving his department—and says he is determined to get to the truth. This is what Democrats shouting “liar” are really upset about.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., should apologize to Attorney General William Barr for calling him a liar, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday.
Following Pelosi’s comments in regard to Barr’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham — who chairs the panel that questioned Barr about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report Wednesday — said she was wrong.
“I actually admire [Pelosi] as a person,” Graham said. “I disagree with her publicly, but it’s an offensive statement. I think she should apologize to the attorney general, or be specific as to how he lied.”
“I think his testimony regarding his interaction with Mr. Mueller about the letter, I believe it,” Graham added. “You can almost send a letter to Mr. Mueller, asking him if he takes issue with anything that Mr. [Barr] said about the phone call they had. So, I just think it’s over the top. I think it says more about her than it does about Bill Barr. I don’t believe he lied one bit.”
Graham was also asked if he has spoken to the White House about Barr’s hearing appearance.
“I just talked to the White House counsel, they were very pleased,” Graham said.
“I think what Mr. Barr went through [Wednesday] was unseemly and unnecessary. He did not misrepresent one word of the report. The findings by Mr. Mueller are what Mr. Barr said they were, and if you don’t believe me, read the report.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joined congressional bickering over Attorney General William Barr on Thursday by accusing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., of being untruthful.
“I do not believe Attorney General Barr lied. I believe he’s been very transparent in all of this. I think that if there are people who are looking at who has lied in the process, simply look at Chairman Nadler,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Barr has rankled Democratic lawmakers after a news story this week reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller last month complained to the attorney general that his four-page memo about Mueller’s federal Russia investigation report “did not fully capture the context” of his findings. Barr then refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning after testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. His failure to sit down for the interview, he said, was triggered by Democrats on the panel pushing for an additional hour of questioning by staff lawyers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., further fanned tensions Thursday by alleging that Barr lied to Congress.
“Chairman Nadler asked the attorney general to come and he said yes. After the attorney general said he would come to the committee to speak to every member, they moved to change the rules. Even CNN cannot find any history of that happening before. The only time an individual, a staffer, questioned somebody is during Watergate,” McCarthy said. “Nadler has been wanting to impeach since the day after the election. He can’t have the facts to prove why he should, but he will not stop. This is what the American public gets frustrated by, politics of attacking individuals.”
McCarthy on Thursday also agreed with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who asserted this week there was no need for Mueller to speak to Congress about his work.
Despite the highly partisan hearing with Attorney General William Bar on Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats did agree on one thing: Election and campaign security needs to improve by 2020, The Washington Post is reporting.
Both sides sought his support for legislation to require paper records for 2020 votes. They also want him to back their efforts to strengthen election infrastructure and in the fight against digital misinformation, the newspaper noted.
“The special counsel’s report is the end of the road when it comes to the question of the Trump administration’s intent,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said. “But it is just the beginning of the conversation on how we counter Russia and other foreign adversaries in their attempts to undermine our Republic.”
A new version of the bipartisan Secure Elections Act is set to be introduced shortly. An earlier version of the bill was pulled at the end of the last congressional session after the White House expressed concerns.
And the Post claimed, without White House support, it will be difficult to pass the new version. Barr was pushed for his support during the hearing, but said he was not familiar with the bill. However, he pledged to work with lawmakers “on securing our elections.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked the Justice Department help the 2020 candidates from being digitally comprised by Russia, China, and others.
And Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked if Barr “would support an effort by Congress, working with the administration, to harden our electoral infrastructure?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday declared the Attorney General William Barr committed a crime by lying to Congress about a dispute with Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the findings in his report.
“He lied to Congress,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “If anybody else did that it would be considered a crime.”
Pelosi made the accusation as the House Judiciary Committee, led by Democrats, weighs a vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over to the entire Congress the full, unredacted Mueller report.
Democrats have also seized on a newly released letter Mueller sent to Barr on March 27 in which he complained Barr’s four-page memo on the findings did not accurately portray the contents of the full report, which is more than 400 pages.
Barr told Congress last month that Mueller had no complaints about his summary. The Mueller letter was leaked the day before Barr appeared for questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barr on Wednesday defended his initial answer to Congress about his discussion with Mueller, noting that Mueller did not call Barr’s memo inaccurate. Barr said Mueller didn’t like the press coverage of Barr’s memo.
Pelosi said she lost sleep over the testimony.
“How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement official in our country misrepresent, withhold the truth from the Congress of the United States.
Democrats want to see the notes from the phone call but Barr said he won’t hand them over. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would ask Mueller if he had any problem with Barr’s accounting of the discussion and would invite him to testify before Congress if he disagreed with Barr.
President Donald Trump should continue to fight subpoenas issued against him and members of his administration and family, because they are politically motivated and don’t mark legitimate congressional oversight efforts, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Thursday.
“I don’t think this is oversight,” the South Carolina Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill. “This is trying to destroy him and his family. Oversight is to hold the executive branch accountable, not to retry the election. Trump won. This is more about destroying Trump than it is trying to oversee the executive branch, in my view.”
However, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was a different matter, said Graham, as “he was a man allowed to do his job.”
Graham’s comments came after he told reporters on Wednesday he would not be calling in Mueller to testify before his committee, as he believes the investigation into Russian election interference and Trump “is over.”
Trump has said further congressional subpoenas will not be obeyed, and Graham commented on Thursday that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. and others must have a reason for issuing their demands.
“You just can’t subpoena a person because you’re a member of Congress,” said Graham. “You have to have a reason. So we have a legal process, the president can challenge the subpoenas. He has every right to do so.”
It has been a totally normal day for the hosts at MSNBC, which has gone harder than any other cable network in promoting the since-debunked theory that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to steal the 2016 election.
Hosts Nicole Wallace and Brian Williams cut away from Attorney General William Barr’s congressional testimony Wednesday not once but twice, supposedly to correct the record.
The first interruption came after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., stated correctly that special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election found “no collusion. No coordination. No conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding the 2016 election.”
Graham’s remarks came in the larger context of defending the integrity of the Russia investigation, saying Mueller “was allowed to do his job” and still found no collusion. Noted fabulist Brian Williams could not let this accurate statement go uncorrected.
“We’re reluctant to do this. We rarely do, but the chairman of the Judiciary Committee just said that Mueller found there was no collusion,” Williams said. “That is not correct. Nicolle Wallace, the report says collusion is not a thing they considered. It doesn’t exist in federal code.”
This is cute. Are we really going to pretend that “collusion,” which, as the Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz notes, is not a crime as defined by the federal penal code, was not used for the last two years as a catch-all term to mean illegal coordination between Trump’s people and the Russians?
Wallace added, “What’s stunning is that Lindsey Graham is offering answers to questions that aren’t on the table today. The question on the table today after the reporting last night is why did Barr mischaracterize what was actually in the Mueller report? I’m sorry, Lindsey Graham, but your defensiveness is showing. To talk about everything that went into it and then in the next breath distort it, is a stunning, stunning mischaracterization of what the whole exercise is supposed to be about.”
Williams nodded along, adding in his very sage way, “We try to offer just gavel-to-gavel coverage but that phrase, or the lack of it, its absence from federal code. This ‘no collusion’ mantra is so foundational to why we’re here today that we decided to flag it when we heard him use it yet again.”
MSNBC also displayed an on-air graphic claiming Graham had “falsely” claimed there was “no collusion.”
Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
Hosts Wallace and Williams interrupted a second time during Barr’s hearing to accuse the attorney general of being a liar.
“So I’m not going to dance around this. He’s lying. He’s lying about what the Mueller report finds around one of the critical flashpoints in the obstruction investigation,” she said.
Sorry the collusion thing did not work out for you. Or are we not using the word “collusion” anymore?
Hillary Clinton brushed off reports that President Trump wanted to open an investigation into her while special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating him.
In an MSNBC interview Wednesday, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said that the president and others are using talk of investigating her as a means of diverting attention from Mueller’s report.
“I’m living rent-free inside of Donald Trump’s brain and it’s not a very nice place to be, I can tell you that,” she said, responding to a question about how Mueller’s team wrote that Trump met with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October 2017 and asked him to look into investigating Clinton.
An FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of an unauthorized email server while secretary of state ended in 2016. More than 30,000 emails were deleted from the server, with 5,000 ultimately recovered. Clinton had said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified,” but the FBI found more than 100 emails that did contain classified information. Despite that, Clinton claimed Wednesday that she did nothing wrong and said that Republicans are being overzealous in their pursuit to defend Trump and attack her.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve been investigated repeatedly by the other side. And much to their dismay, but to my, you know, satisfaction, it’s been for naught,” Clinton said Wednesday. “I guess it is one of their tools to fire up their hardcore base. When in doubt, go after me.”
Attempts to re-open investigations into her show that she’s “living rent free inside of Donald Trump’s brain,” @HillaryClinton says. “It’s not a very nice place to be, I can tell you that.” pic.twitter.com/BZ2GKLcnBx
Since the Mueller report was released, Trump has been a vocal critic about how the investigation into him began. He said last week that Clinton “destroyed the lives of people” working on his campaign.
“This was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government,” Trump said. “This was an overthrow. It’s a disgraceful thing. I think it’s far bigger than Watergate. I think it’s possibly the biggest scandal in political history in this country. Maybe beyond political.”
Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s Fed Reserve Board nominee, on Wednesday fought back against his critics, GOP senators included, writing in The Hill that he has “been right a lot more than I’ve been wrong on monetary policy.”
Moore, who advised Trump’s 2016 campaign, has recently come under fire for articles he wrote for the National Review that warned against “the feminization of basketball.” Moore also complained about female athletes seeking equal pay to male athletes and proposed that women only participate in sports “if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. on Tuesday said Moore would be a “very problematic nomination” to the board.
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa also cast doubt on Moore’s nomination, saying that her support is “very unlikely.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she had “reservations,” and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said of Moore’s comments, “it’s hard to look past some of those.” Moore blamed Democrats for the criticism.
“It should be clear to all that the left will engage in scorched-earth battle tactics to destroy almost anyone that he nominates for anything,” Moore wrote of Trump.
“That obviously includes me, so I don’t take it personally. But it does matter who has a vote on the Fed’s Board of Governors, and who will influence the internal debate regarding how it exercises its enormous power,” he added.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday fended off Democratic criticism of his decision to clear U.S. President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice in the Russia inquiry and faulted Special Counsel Robert Mueller for not reaching a conclusion of his own on the issue.
In his first congressional testimony since releasing a redacted version of the report on April 18, Barr also dismissed Mueller’s complaints that he initially disclosed the special counsel’s conclusions on March 24 in an incomplete way that caused public confusion about critical aspects of the inquiry.
Illustrating tensions between the two men, Barr referred to as “a bit snitty” a March 27 letter from Mueller in which the special counsel urged him to release broader summaries of the findings to provide a fuller account – a step Barr rejected. Trump seized on Barr’s March 24 letter to declare that he had been fully exonerated.
Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, tangled with Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during roughly four hours of testimony at a sometimes testy hearing, with several Democrats calling for his resignation after the attorney general stoutly defended Trump.
Democrats have accused Barr of trying to protect the Republican president, who is seeking re-election next year. They pressed Barr on why he decided two days after receiving the 448-page document from Mueller in March to conclude that Trump had not unlawfully sought to obstruct the 22-month investigation.
“I don’t think the government had a prosecutable case,” said Barr, the first Trump administration official to testify about the contents of Mueller’s report.
The report detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Moscow and the campaign’s expectation that it would benefit from Russia’s actions, which included hacking and propaganda to boost Trump and harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The report also detailed a series of actions Trump took to try to impede the investigation.
Mueller, a former FBI director, concluded there was insufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy. Mueller opted not to make a conclusion on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, but pointedly did not exonerate him. Barr has said he and Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, then determined based on Mueller’s findings there was insufficient evidence to establish that Trump committed criminal obstruction.
Barr often appeared to excuse or rationalize Trump’s conduct, asserting that the president’s motives fell short of trying to derail Mueller’s investigation.
“You’ve chosen to be the president’s lawyer and side with him over the interests of the American people,” Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono told Barr, calling him a person who has sacrificed a “once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar that sits in the Oval Office.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s Republican chairman, rushed to Barr’s defense, telling Hirono, “You’ve slandered this man.”
Trump has been unfairly smeared, Barr said, by suspicions he had collaborated with Russia in the election. “Two years of his administration have been dominated by the allegations that have now been proven false. To listen to some of the rhetoric, you would think that the Mueller report had found the opposite,” Barr said.
Barr was critical of Mueller for not reaching a conclusion himself on whether Trump obstructed the probe.
“I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t go down the path of making a traditional prosecutorial decision, then he shouldn’t have investigated,” Barr said.
Barr was asked about the report’s finding that in June 2017 Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to tell Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the order. Rosenstein had appointed Mueller the prior month.
Barr, appointed by Trump after the president fired his predecessor Jeff Sessions, seemed to minimize the incident and said Trump believed “he never outright directed the firing of Mueller.”
“We did not think in this case that the government could show corrupt intent,” Barr said.
Barr told Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, “There is a distinction between saying to someone, ‘Go fire him, go fire Mueller,’ and saying, ‘Have him removed based on conflict.’ … The difference between them is if you remove someone for a conflict of interest, then there would be – presumably – another person appointed.”
Feinstein, sounding unconvinced, responded, “Wouldn’t you have to have in this situation an identifiable conflict that makes sense, or else doesn’t it just become a fabrication?”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr returns to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Justice Department’s Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election.” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
‘INTENTION WAS VERY CLEAR’
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was more blunt.
“I think the president’s intention was very clear. He wanted this to end,” Durbin said, referring to Mueller’s investigation.
Under questioning by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, Barr acknowledged he did not review the investigation’s underlying evidence before deciding to clear Trump of obstruction.
Barr disputed the view that Mueller was handing the baton to Congress for possible impeachment proceedings. “That would be very inappropriate,” Barr said. “That’s not what the Justice Department does.”
Democrats control the House of Representatives, which would start any such impeachment effort, while Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate, which would have to vote to remove the president.
Democrats asked Barr about Mueller’s March 27 letter complaining that Barr’s March 24 letter to lawmakers stating the inquiry’s main conclusions did not “fully capture the context, nature and substance of this Office’s work.” Barr testified Mueller was unhappy with the way the conclusions were being characterized in the media, not his account of the conclusions, though Mueller’s letter does not mention media coverage.
“The letter is a bit snitty,” Barr said, using a word meaning disagreeably ill-tempered, “and I think it was probably written by a member of his staff.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said Barr misled Congress when he testified in April he did not know whether Mueller was happy with his initial characterization of his findings.
Several Democrats demanded that Mueller testify before the committee, but Graham ruled that out.
Barr told the panel he believed Russia and other countries were still a threat to interfere in U.S. elections.
Committee Republicans did not focus on Trump’s conduct but rather on what they saw as the FBI’s improper surveillance during the 2016 race of Trump aides they suspected of being Russian agents, as well as on the Kremlin’s election meddling.
Slideshow (20 Images)
To that end, Barr defended his accusation in a previous congressional hearing this month that American intelligence agencies engaged in “spying” on Trump campaign figures. He said “spying” is “a good English word” without a pejorative meaning and that he would not back off his language, which echoed Trump’s complaints that the Justice Department had engaged in wrongdoing toward his campaign.
Barr indicated that to him, the matter was closed.
“The report is now in the hands of the American people,” he said. “We’re out of it. We have to stop using the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”
The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt an aggressive questioning format for a hearing set for Thursday with Barr, and a Democratic lawmaker said the panel would subpoena Barr if he does not appear. The committee’s subpoena deadline for Barr’s department to hand over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence expired on Wednesday.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Sarah N. Lynch and David Morgan; Writing by Andy Sullivan and James Oliphant; Editing by Will Dunham