House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed Thursday that Attorney General Bill Barr lied to Congress when he testified to the Senate last month that he was unaware whether special counsel Robert Mueller agreed with his and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein’s obstruction of justice ruling.
“What is deadly serious, the attorney general of the United States did not tell the truth to the Congress,” she said angrily during a news conference early Thursday afternoon with reporters. “That’s a crime.”
“He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general. Being the attorney general does not give you a back to say whatever you want and it is a fact because you are the attorney general.”
Her accusation appears to be a lie itself, ironically enough.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "What is deadly serious, the Attorney General of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That's a crime." https://t.co/r3hVKfljP4 pic.twitter.com/ICLidgmMQv
— The Hill (@thehill) May 2, 2019
At the core of Pelosi’s dubious thesis are remarks Barr made while testifying to the House/Senate Appropriations Committees on April 9 and 10, respectively, a couple weeks after the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation but days before the release of his redacted report.
During the House hearing, Rep. Charlie Crist asked the AG whether Mueller had expressed any displeasure with the summary memo he’d penned after the conclusion of the collusion investigation.
“Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?” he asked.
“No, I don’t,” Barr replied.
During the Senate hearing, Sen. Chris Van Hollen questioned the AG over his and the deputy AG’s ruling that President Donald Trump had not obstructed justice and demanded to know whether Mueller supported the ruling: “Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?” he pithily asked.
“I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion,” Barr replied.
Democrats and their media allies now claim these were lies. As evidence, they point to a letter Mueller had sent to Barr in March that was leaked to the media just this week.
In the letter, Mueller complained that the AG’s summary memo didn’t capture the full “context, nature, and substance” of his full 448-page report.
However, the Department of Justice issued a statement Wednesday explaining that after Mueller sent the letter, he and Barr spoke privately on the phone. And during that conversation, the special counsel reiterated that nothing in the summary memo was false.
“In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading,” the DOJ said.
“But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis.”
Mueller’s full letter may be seen below:
Nowhere in Mueller’s letter did he specify his opinion on the AG and deputy AG’s ruling. Nor did he explicitly question the accuracy of Barr’s summary memo. He therefore didn’t lie.
“In an exchange with Sen. Chris Van Hollen last month, he was asked whether Mueller supported his ‘conclusion,’ meaning his judgment that the president didn’t obstruct justice. Barr accurately said he didn’t know. He wasn’t asked about Mueller’s view of the summary letter,” Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, noted in a column Wednesday for Politico.
“An exchange with Rep. Charlie Crist was more on point. Crist asked Barr whether he knew what Mueller officials anonymously complaining about his letter were referring to. Barr said he didn’t (he presumably hadn’t talked to these anonymous officials about their concerns), but volunteered that they probably wanted more information out and explained why he opposed releasing summaries from the report.”
These points of fact do not seem to concern Democrats and their allies, however.
Case in point:
AG Barr seriously misled the U.S. Senate on April 10 when he said under oath that he “didn’t know” whether Mueller agreed with his summary of what the Mueller report concluded. The truth? Mueller had written to Barr two weeks earlier saying he definitely didn’t agree.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) May 1, 2019
Barr’s answer to @RepCharlieCrist, denying knowledge of Mueller’s concerns over his summary, was deliberately false and misleading.
If he were an ordinary citizen, it might be considered perjury. As our top law enforcement official, it’s even worse.
He must step down. https://t.co/SRQuEArPIU
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 1, 2019
Federal judges have repeatedly been impeached and removed from office for committing perjury, “making false and misleading statements”, “impeding an official investigation”, and “lying under oath”. Those descriptions seem to fit William Barr tonight.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 1, 2019
As Robert Mueller told Barr, his mischaracterizations of the report mislead the public and undermined one of the central purposes for the Justice Department appointing the Special Counsel. Barr then lied to Congress and the press.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 1, 2019
Why is there so much focus on Barr’s words? Rich Lowry suspects it’s because Democrats want to use Barr as a scapegoat.
“Ultimately, the firestorm over Barr’s summary letter is a misdirection, and he’s a scapegoat. If Mueller wanted to recommend charging Trump with obstruction of justice, he could have done so. Instead, he punted and now he — or some people around him — are upset that the Barr letter accurately stated his convoluted not guilty/not exonerated bottom line,” he opined.
In other words, Democrats and their media allies are upset with Barr’s conclusion, as they’d wanted Trump to be found guilty of obstruction of justice so that they could quickly remove him from office. But now that he’s been exonerated, they’ve become disturbingly desperate, or so it would appear.
Again, the Mueller report IS PUBLIC. We’ve been having fights over it for weeks, now. Barr didn’t hide anything. He didn’t lie about anything. This is all insane bullcrap.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 1, 2019