Attorney General William Barr has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 24 hours—or, at least, that’s how it appears.
On Tuesday night, hours before Barr was scheduled to field questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Mueller investigation, the Washington Post released
a crisp, previously unseen letter sent to Barr at the end of March by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In the vaguely admonitory letter, sent weeks before the report was made public, Mueller states that Barr’s 4-page letter to Congress
summarizing his investigation “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” Mueller goes on to say that widespread confusion over the findings could undermine “full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation,” and ends by encouraging Barr to quickly release summaries of the key findings written by the Special Counsel team to allay the public’s misconceptions.
According to the Washington Post, Mueller specified to Barr over the phone the next day that “media misrepresentation,” not Barr’s summary to Congress, had created the confusion. However, there’s probably
a reason Mueller put his complaint into writing.
Barr, of course, did not release the summaries; instead, he released the full report in April.
On Wednesday, with Mueller’s letter percolating around the Capitol, Barr woke up and plopped himself in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, taking questions and listening to jeremiads from Senators throughout the morning and afternoon.
was said in the course
of the hearing, but one admission from Barr, elicited by Kamala Harris (D-Calf.), is all but guaranteed to haunt him in the coming weeks, as some Senate Democrats mull
In a blistering interrogation, Harris, a presidential primary candidate, asked
Barr if he had “personally reviewed all of the underlying evidence” before determining not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.
Barr said he had not.
“We accepted,” Barr said, referring to himself and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,“ the statements in the report as the factual record. We did not go underneath it to see if they were accurate. We accepted it as accurate.”
Barr is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but his appearance is up in the air
after House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) said
he would allow Democratic and Republican lawyers to participate in the hearing. According to a Justice Department spokesperson, Barr agreed to take questions from members of the House, not their legal counsels.