A Rift Just Opened Between William Barr And Robert Mueller And All Hell Is Breaking Loose
A rift has opened between Attorney General William Barr has described special counsel Robert Mueller over Barr’s handling of Mueller’s report on the Justice Department’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Barr’s testimony at before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday went more and more poorly for him today as the day went on, leading us to ask aloud whether he would even show up for tomorrow’s more challenging House Judiciary Committee hearing. Sure enough, Barr just revealed that he’s going to bail on tomorrow’s hearing – meaning all hell is about to break loose.
Now that William Barr has officially said he’s not showing up tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee has a subpoena coming against Barr, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. Assuming Barr blows off the subpoena, he’ll be promptly held in contempt of Congress. From there, we get to find out what committee chair Jerry Nadler truly has up his sleeve when it comes to consequences for Trump regime officials who try to defy subpoenas.
Barr’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday offered new details about the differences between Barr and Mueller, who made clear his displeasure with Barr’s four-page memo describing his investigatory conclusions in a letter to the attorney general in late March.
Today’s hearing offered glimpses of Barr’s misgivings about Mueller’s handling of the probe. And it has raised the stakes for Mueller’s own testimony on Capitol Hill, for which Democrats are clamoring as they excoriate Barr’s handling of the special counsel’s report.
The turn of events is a surprising development for two men who were colleagues at the Justice Department and have known one another for three decades, something Barr emphasized during his confirmation hearing three months ago. Their families are close, and their wives attend the same Bible study together. Mueller was also a guest at Barr’s daughter’s wedding.
The friction between Mueller and Barr with respect to the Russia investigation was first laid bare Tuesday evening, with the revelation of a letter Mueller wrote to the attorney general on March 27 saying that his memo did not “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the investigation’s conclusions.
The letter followed reports that members of the special counsel’s office felt Barr’s description did not capture the gravity of their findings on obstruction.
Barr on Wednesday called the letter “snitty,” and said he would rather Mueller have called him to vent his frustration.
“I said, ‘Bob, what’s with the letter, you know? Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call me if there is an issue,’ ” Barr said.
Barr said Mueller did not accuse him of misrepresenting the facts but said the special counsel’s office took issue with the resulting media coverage and argued releasing summaries from the report would provide more context.
“He said that they were concerned about the way the media was playing this and felt that it was important to get out the summaries, which they felt would put their work in proper context and avoid some of the confusion that was emerging,” Barr said.
Of course, that was a lie as Mueller’s letter, sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, did not mention the media. Instead, it said Barr’s memo resulted in “public confusion about critical aspects” of the investigation’s results.
“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,” Mueller wrote.
Mueller was notably absent from Barr’s April 18 press conference announcing the release of the report, during which the attorney general recognized Mueller for the “thoroughness” of his investigation but took issue with some of his “legal theories” on obstruction.
The tension between Barr and the special counsel’s office has primarily risen from his handling of the results of the obstruction inquiry.
Mueller’s 448-page report analyzed nearly a dozen episodes of potential obstruction by Trump and painted a picture of a White House in chaos and a commander in chief bent on controlling a probe that he viewed as a threat to his presidency.
Ultimately, investigators wrote they could not “conclusively” determine Trump did not commit a crime and did not make a decision one way or another, leaving the decision to Congress.