March 26, 2019
When President Donald Trump’s personally selected and nominated attorney general, William Barr, quickly decided this past weekend that there had been no obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation, Democrats had their doubts.
After all, before his nomination, Barr had deeply damaged his credibility by sending an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and the White House on June 8 of last year, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller “should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.”
Barr noted at that time, “I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one. It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly zealous prosecutors.”
Did Robert Mueller get that message before he decided to demur? And who can blame Democrats for wondering whether—when Barr said the special counsel had not reached a conclusion on obstruction of justice—he was merely grabbing the opportunity that he had hoped to take advantage of all along?
Indeed, Democrats accused Barr of putting his own finding on Mueller’s report, noting that Mueller himself did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, even if he did not explicitly state that Trump had committed obstruction, The Hill reported.
“A sanitized summary from Trump’s handpicked bodyguard is not acceptable,” said Representative Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey). “Barr has his finger on the scale to protect Trump. The full report should be released immediately.”
“From day one, Trump obstructed this investigation and refused to cooperate. Several of his top aides have been convicted in court. If Trump’s AG won’t hold him accountable for his crimes, it’s up to Congress to investigate,” Pascrell continued, adding that “the ball is now squarely in our court.”
Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Trump in 2020—including Senators Cory Booker (New Jersey), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Kamala Harris (California), and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)—also called for the full report to be released, The Hill said.
“The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately—not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official,” Booker tweeted.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said his panel would be calling on Barr to testify, the news outlet reported.
“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision-making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before House Judiciary in the near future,” he said.
Trump and the White House seized on Barr’s letter summarizing Mueller’s report as a vindication. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Trump tweeted on March 24 at 4:42 p.m.
Research contact: @the hill