Much like any part of the investigations surrounding President Trump and the resulting political fracas on Capitol Hill, if you’re a Trump fan…you got what you wanted yesterday. If you’re across the aisle, you got what you wanted yesterday. What everyone can agree on? Attorney General Bill Barr is defending his handling of the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Here’s a rundown of what happened during the contentious Senate hearing:
- Barr said he was surprised that Mueller did not make a recommendation on obstruction of justice and argued that there is "not a prosecutable case."
- Barr said he quickly decided not to pursue a broader investigation of obstruction after getting the final report in March. Mueller detailed 10 instances where obstruction may have occurred.
- The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham– proclaimed himself satisfied with Mueller's report…adding, “It is over."
- Democrats weren’t satisfied. Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono accused Barr of lying and called on Barr to resign. Graham then accused Hirono of slandering Barr.
- Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal said Barr's credibility has been undermined by his handling of the report – and referred to Mueller’s letter to Barr saying he wasn’t happy about the impression Barr gave of his report. Barr rejected Blumenthal's assertion that he cleared Trump. Giving his assessment of Mueller’s letter, Barr offered. “The letter’s a bit snitty, and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people.”
- Barr noted that the exchange with Mueller followed with a phone call – and when Barr confirmed that notes were taken on the conversation, Blumenthal asked if the committee could have them. Barr flatly replied, “No.” When Blumenthal pressed as to “why?” Barr answered, “Why should you have them?”
- Still, Barr insisted that Mueller was clear in the phone call that the Justice Department "had not misrepresented his report."
Meanwhile, Barr will not testify in a House Judiciary Committee hearing today. Barr had threatened to skip the meeting over objections to changes in the hearing's format – specifically, that Congressional staffers, not the lawmakers would be asking questions. Barr's decision to skip the House hearing could force House Democrats to issue subpoenas compelling him to appear.