Attorney General William Barr defended his handling of the Robert Mueller investigation to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, as Democrats accused him of working as an agent of President Trump rather than the top USA law enforcement official.
The April 19 letter from White House legal counsel Emmet Flood to Attorney General William Barr, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was in line with Trump's confrontational approach to dealing with a Democratic effort to use the Mueller report as a springboard into more investigations. "And that's a crime". Those moves are likely to prompt a vote on holding Barr in contempt, and possibly the issuance of subpoenas - bringing House Democrats and the Trump administration closer to a prolonged battle in court.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, Kerri Kupec, called Pelosi's comments "baseless". "That's a crime", Pelosi said at her weekly press conference. The Justice Department has already missed the deadline in a committee subpoena to hand over an unredacted version of Mueller's report as well as all the underlying evidence. In his own March 24 letter to Congress describing the "principal conclusions" of Mueller's report, Barr indicated that, while the special counsel did find at least some evidence suggesting Trump tried to obstruct the investigation, the evidence did not amount to a criminal offense. At one point, when he couldn't answer Senator Amy Klobuchar's question about whether Mueller reviewed President Trump's taxes, Barr said, "You could ask Bob Mueller when he comes here".
Barr agreed to be questioned by the House lawmakers, but rejected further questioning by the lawyers. During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Barr defended his handling and release of Mueller's report, despite a complaint from the special counsel by letter that the attorney general's initial summary of his findings caused "public confusion".
Things took a theatrical turn when Rep.
Pelosi said impeachment is "too good for" Trump. "But the report is not where the story ends".
Despite Barr's announcement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler went ahead with the hearing - leaving an empty chair for the Attorney General. He said the committee could have had a hearing, but Democrats took the ability away. "He should resign - and based on the actual facts in the Mueller report, Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the President".
Democrats have alleged Barr may have also given misleading testimony to Congress about criticism he received from Mueller. Barr testified on Wednesday before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, stoutly defending Republican President Donald Trump in the wake of the release of the Mueller report.
Democrats have said they may issue a subpoena to try to force Barr to testify.
"When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr's memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said", the Post reports. Attorney General William Barr: "No".
In the April letter, Flood blasted the Mueller report as defective and political.