Joe Biden became the latest presidential contender to demand that AG Barr resign following a 5-hour-plus hearing on Wednesday where Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee howled, mostly without evidence, that Barr was improperly trying to cover for President Trump, that he had deliberately watered down Mueller’s findings and that he was, in effect, acting as a mole within the DOJ feeding information on the 14 ongoing investigations to the White House.
Given his treatment at the hands of the Senate, it’s hardly a surprise that Barr declined to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, which is stocked with even more bloodthirsty Democrats who will all need to defend their seats in 18 months time. And while Democrats will inevitably portray this as Barr shirking responsibility, as WSJ points out in an editorial published in Thursday’s paper, Barr’s treatment at the hands of the Judiciary’s Democrats was nothing short of reprehensible – and the coordinated ‘leak’ of the Mueller letter on the eve of the hearing was a blatant attempt to discredit an Attorney General who had done nothing wrong.
As WSJ explains, Mueller’s complaint that Barr’s summary of the 448-page report’s findings “lacked context” was likely an exercise in ass-covering. How could Barr be expected to distill the full sweep and scope of such a lengthy report’s findings in just four pages. In the same letter, Mueller affirmed that Barr’s summary was accurate – and, more tellingly, that he had been moved to write the letter following “public confusion” about his findings (i.e. Republicans’ trumpeting of ‘no collusion, no obstruction’, which probably angered Mueller’s many fanboys and fangirls in the #resistance).
As Lindsey Graham interjected following Marie Hirono’s bombastic questioning, where she effectively labeled Barr a liar and a traitor, the AG has been subjected to vicious slander at the hands of the Democrats simply for doing his job honestly and properly.
And the calls for his resignation are merely the cherry on top.
If Barr’s actions should be contrasted with anyone’s, the most fitting example would be former AG Loretta Lynch. Lynch “cowered” before James Comey and bowed to partisan interests by refusing to make a prosecutorial judgment after the Clinton investigation.
Did the Democrats demand that she resign?
Read the full editorial below:
Washington pile-ons are never pretty, but this week’s political setup of Attorney General William Barr is disreputable even by Beltway standards. Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that special counsel Robert Mueller abdicated.
Mr. Barr’s Wednesday testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was preceded late Tuesday by the leak of a letter Mr. Mueller had sent the AG on March 27. Mr. Mueller griped in the letter that Mr. Barr’s four-page explanation to Congress of the principal conclusions of the Mueller report on March 24 “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller team’s “work and conclusions.” Only in Washington could this exercise in posterior covering be puffed into a mini-outrage.
Democrats leapt on the letter as proof that Mr. Barr was somehow covering for Donald Trump when he has covered up nothing. Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, the Democratic answer to Rep. Louie Gohmert, accused Mr. Barr of abusing his office and lying to Congress, and demanded that he resign. The only thing she lacked was evidence.
Mr. Barr’s four-page letter couldn’t possibly have covered all the nuances of a 448-page report. It was an attempt to provide Mr. Mueller’s conclusions to Congress and the public as quickly as possible, while he took the time to work through the entire document to make redactions required by law and Justice Department rules.
This is exactly what he promised to do in his confirmation hearing. Even Mr. Mueller’s complaining letter admits that Mr. Barr’s letter wasn’t inaccurate, a fact Mr. Barr says Mr. Mueller also conceded in a subsequent phone call. The Mueller complaint, rather, was that there was “public confusion about critical aspects” of his investigation. Translation: Republicans were claiming vindication for Donald Trump, and Mr. Mueller was taking hits in the press for not nailing the worst President in history. Having been hailed for months as a combination of Eliot Ness and St. Thomas More, Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors seem to have been unnerved by some bad press clips.
Mr. Barr told the Senate Wednesday that he offered Mr. Mueller the chance to review his four-page letter before sending it to Congress, but the special counsel declined. Mr. Mueller worked for Mr. Barr, and that was the proper time to offer suggestions or disagree. Instead, Mr. Mueller ducked that responsibility and then griped in an ex-post-facto letter that was conveniently leaked on the eve of Mr. Barr’s testimony. Quite the stand-up guy.
Mr. Barr has since released the full Mueller report with minor redactions, as he promised, and with the “context” intact. Keep in mind Mr. Barr was under no legal obligation to release anything at all. Mr. Mueller reports only to Mr. Barr, not to the country or Congress.
Mr. Barr has also made nearly all of the redactions in the report available to senior Members of Congress to inspect at Justice. Yet as of this writing, only three Members have bothered—Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and ranking House Republican on Judiciary Doug Collins. Not one Democrat howling about Mr. Barr’s lack of transparency has examined the outrages they claim are hidden.
Democrats are also upset that Mr. Barr concluded that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice regarding the Russia probe. But in that decision too Mr. Barr was behaving as an Attorney General should. Mr. Mueller compiled a factual record but shrank from a “prosecutorial judgment.” Mr. Barr then stepped up and made the call, however unpopular with Democrats and the press.
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Contrast that to the abdication of Loretta Lynch, who failed as Barack Obama’s last Attorney General to make a prosecutorial judgment about Hillary Clinton’s misuse of classified information. Ms. Lynch cowered before the bullying of then FBI director James Comey, who absolved Mrs. Clinton of wrongdoing while publicly scolding her. That egregious break with Justice policy eventually led Mr. Comey to re-open the Clinton probe in late October 2016, which helped to elect Mr. Trump.
All of this shows again the risks of appointing special counsels. They lack the political accountability that the Founders built into the separation of powers. Mr. Mueller, in his March 27 letter, revealed again that like Mr. Comey at the FBI he viewed himself as accountable only to himself.
This trashing of Bill Barr shows how frustrated and angry Democrats continue to be that the special counsel came up empty in his Russia collusion probe. He was supposed to be their fast-track to impeachment. Now they’re left trying to gin up an obstruction tale, but the probe wasn’t obstructed and there was no underlying crime. So they’re shouting and pounding the table against Bill Barr for acting like a real Attorney General.