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Attorney General Barr testifies today before the Senate Judiciary Committee as rift with Mueller becomes public


This news story was published on May 1, 2019.
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Barr

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General William Barr is testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Congress as a rift with Special Counsel Robert Mueller over Barr’s characterization of Mueller’s long-awaited report as exonerating President Donald Trump of crimes has become public.

Barr’s Opening Statement:

Washington, DC ~ Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, Chairman Graham, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the conclusion of the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, and the confidential report he submitted to me, which I recently released to the public after applying necessary redactions.

When I appeared before this Committee just a few months ago for my confirmation hearing, Senators asked for two commitments concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation: first, that I would allow the Special Counsel to finish his investigation without interference; and second, that I would release his report to Congress and to the American public. I believe that the record speaks for itself. The Special Counsel completed his investigation as he saw fit. As I informed Congress on March 22, 2019, at no point did I, or anyone at the Department of Justice, overrule the Special Counsel on any proposed action. In addition, immediately upon receiving his confidential report to me, we began working with the Special Counsel to prepare it for public release and, on April 18, 2019, I released a public version subject only to limited redactions that were necessary to comply with the law and to protect important governmental interests.

Preparation for Public Release

As I explained in my letter of April 18, 2019, the redactions in the public report fall into four categories: (1) grand-jury information, the disclosure of which is prohibited by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); (2) investigative techniques, which reflect material identified by the intelligence and law enforcement communities as potentially compromising sensitive sources, methods, or techniques, as well as information that could harm ongoing intelligence or law enforcement activities; (3) information that, if released, could harm ongoing law enforcement matters, including charged cases where court rules and orders bar public disclosure by the parties of case information; and (4) information that would unduly infringe upon the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties, which includes deliberation about decisions not to recommend prosecution of such parties. I have also made available to a bipartisan group of leaders in Congress, including Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein, a minimally redacted version that includes everything other than the grand-jury material, which by law cannot be disclosed.

We made every effort to ensure that the redactions were as limited as possible. According to one analysis, just eight percent of the public report was redacted. And my understanding is that less than two percent has been withheld in the minimally redacted version made available to Congressional leaders. While the Deputy Attorney General and I selected the categories of redactions, the redactions themselves were made by Department of Justice attorneys working closely with attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office. These lawyers consulted with the prosecutors handling ongoing matters and with members of the intelligence community who reviewed selected portions of the report to advise on redactions. The Deputy Attorney General and I did not overrule any of the redaction decisions, nor did we request that any additional material be redacted.

We also permitted the Office of the White House Counsel and the President’s personal counsel to review the redacted report prior to its release, but neither played any role in the redaction process. Review by the Office of White House Counsel allowed them to advise the President on executive privilege, consistent with long-standing Executive Branch practice. As I have explained, the President made the determination not to withhold any information based on executive privilege. Review by the President’s personal counsel was a matter of fairness in light of my decision to make public what would otherwise have been a confidential report, and it was consistent with the practice followed for years under the now-expired Ethics in Government Act.

Bottom-Line Conclusions

After the Special Counsel submitted the confidential report on March 22, I determined that it was in the public interest for the Department to announce the investigation’s bottom-line conclusions—that is, the determination whether a provable crime has been committed or not. I did so in my March 24 letter. I did not believe that it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion, leading to public debate over incomplete information. My main focus was the prompt release of a public version of the report so that Congress and the American people could read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

The Department’s principal responsibility in conducting this investigation was to determine whether the conduct reviewed constituted a crime that the Department could prove beyond a reasonable doubt. As Attorney General, I serve as the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the Department carries out its law-enforcement functions appropriately. The Special Counsel’s investigation was no exception. The Special Counsel was, after all, a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice charged with making prosecution or declination decisions.

The role of the federal prosecutor and the purpose of a criminal investigation are well-defined. Federal prosecutors work with grand juries to collect evidence to determine whether a crime has been committed. Once a prosecutor has exhausted his investigation into the facts of a case, he or she faces a binary choice: either to commence or to decline prosecution. To commence prosecution, the prosecutor must apply the principles of federal prosecution and conclude both that the conduct at issue constitutes a federal offense and that the admissible evidence would probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a guilty verdict by an unbiased trier of fact. These principles govern the conduct of all prosecutions by the Department and are codified in the Justice Manual.

The appointment of a Special Counsel and the investigation of the conduct of the President of the United States do not change these rules. To the contrary, they make it all the more important for the Department to follow them. The appointment of a Special Counsel calls for particular care since it poses the risk of what Attorney General Robert Jackson called “the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted.” By definition, a Special Counsel is charged with investigating particular potential crimes, not all potential crimes wherever they may be found. Including a democratically elected politician as a subject in a criminal investigation likewise calls for special care. As Attorney General Jackson admonished his United States Attorneys, politically sensitive cases demand that federal prosecutors be “dispassionate and courageous” in order to “protect the spirit as well as the letter of our civil liberties.”

The core civil liberty that underpins our American criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. Every person enjoys this presumption long before the commencement of any investigation or official proceeding. A federal prosecutor’s task is to decide whether the admissible evidence is sufficient to overcome that presumption and establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If so, he seeks an indictment; if not, he does not. The Special Counsel’s report demonstrates that there are many subsidiary considerations informing that prosecutorial judgment—including whether particular legal theories would extend to the facts of the case and whether the evidence is sufficient to prove one or another element of a crime. But at the end of the day, the federal prosecutor must decide yes or no. That is what I sought to address in my March 24 letter.

Russian Interference

The Special Counsel inherited an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and whether any individuals affiliated with President Trump’s campaign colluded in those efforts. In Volume I of the report, the Special Counsel found that several provable crimes were committed by Russian nationals related to two distinct schemes. First, the report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government, to sow social discord among American voters through disinformation and social media operations. Second, the report details efforts by Russian military officials associated with the GRU to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton for the purpose of eventually publicizing those emails. Following a thorough investigation, the Special Counsel brought charges against several Russian nationals and entities in connection with each scheme.

The Special Counsel also looked at whether any member or affiliate of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump participated in these crimes. With respect to the disinformation scheme, the Special Counsel found no evidence that any Americans—including anyone associated with the Trump campaign—conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA. Likewise, with respect to hacking, the Special Counsel found no evidence that anyone associated with the Trump campaign, nor any other American, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations. Moreover, the Special Counsel did not find that any Americans committed a crime in connection with the dissemination of the hacked materials in part because a defendant could not be charged for dissemination without proof of his involvement in the underlying hacking conspiracy.

Finally, the Special Counsel investigated a number of “links” or “contacts” between Trump Campaign officials and individuals connected with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy with the Russian government to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign.

Thus, as to the original question of conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the Special Counsel did not find that any crimes were committed by the campaign or its affiliates.

Obstruction of Justice

In Volume II of the report, the Special Counsel considered whether certain actions of the President could amount to obstruction of justice. The Special Counsel decided not to reach a conclusion, however, about whether the President committed an obstruction offense. Instead, the report recounts ten episodes and discusses potential legal theories for connecting the President’s actions to the elements of an obstruction offense. After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that, under the principles of federal prosecution, the evidence developed by the Special Counsel would not be sufficient to charge the President with an obstruction-of-justice offense.

The Deputy Attorney General and I knew that we had to make this assessment because, as I previously explained, the prosecutorial judgment whether a crime has been established is an integral part of the Department’s criminal process. The Special Counsel regulations provide for the report to remain confidential. Given the extraordinary public interest in this investigation, however, I determined that it was necessary to make as much of it public as I could and committed the Department to being as transparent as possible. But it would not have been appropriate for me simply to release Volume II of the report without making a prosecutorial judgment.

The Deputy Attorney General and I therefore conducted a careful review of the report, looking at the facts found and the legal theories set forth by the Special Counsel. Although we disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion. We concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

* * *

The responsibility of the Department of Justice, when it comes to law enforcement, is to determine whether crimes have been committed and to prosecute those crimes under the principles of federal prosecution. With the completion of the Special Counsel’s investigation and the resulting prosecutorial decisions, the Department’s work on this matter is at its end aside from completing the cases that have been referred to other offices. From here on, the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process. As I am sure you agree, it is vitally important for the Department of Justice to stand apart from the political process and not to become an adjunct of it.

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43 Responses to Attorney General Barr testifies today before the Senate Judiciary Committee as rift with Mueller becomes public

  1. Avatar

    In The Name Of Justice Reply Report comment

    May 4, 2019 at 1:19 am

    The whole Russian Collusion was a lie from the get-go to try and overturn the results of the 2016 election

    We must demand an investigation and charges be brought against all of those in the FBI, CIA, and Obama’s administration that attempted to overthrow a sitting US President using these kinds of tactics.

    If we don’t demand that as Americans (Democrat or Republican) we don’t have a country.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 9:40 am

    All of them, Nadler, Schiff for being typical party stooges, and Warren, Booker, Harris et al shameless in their use of this hearing for their political aspirations. Shameful behavior at best. Anti American in purpose. Run them out on a rail!!

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 9:37 am

    The democrats and media are in shock –AG Barr is “Trumping” them . He gave specific answers and they didn’t know what to do. Yes there was “spying”- it’s right in front of their noses but they keep up the rhetoric of obstruction. More investigations of the top -Obama, Clinton, Clapped, Brennan, c
    Comet, Struk & Paige. The cards will start to tumble .

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 3, 2019 at 10:20 am

      Specific answers? He reminded me of Clinton “define ‘sex.'” Barr: suggested? hinted? inferred? not sure what those “big words” mean?????

      And what kind of prosecutor would ever have relied on a short recap rather than looking at the evidence him/herself?

      What Barr demonstrated is that he is either incompetent as an attorney or that he sees his position as one serving the President rather than the Nation. To quote the President, “Sad.”

      • Avatar

        Get Real Reply Report comment

        May 4, 2019 at 1:13 am

        So you are wanting/expecting Barr to go against 25 other attorneys and the special prosecutor and change Mueller’s findings?

        You have to be smoking your socks on that one.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Democrats on the Judiciary Committee continued to insist that Trump had corrupt intent in wanting to obstruct the Mueller investigation.
    Some became annoyed when Barr said several times in testimony that the president had been “falsely accused” of conspiring with Russian operatives to win the presidential election.
    “If the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests, the accusations against him were false and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents, and was hampering his ability to govern,” Barr said. “That is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel.”

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Barr has no less that 14 open investigations into Democrats conspirital illegal attempts to over turn the 2016 election. Is Joe trying to obstruct justice by calling for Barr’s resignation?
    Asking for a President…

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 7:55 am

    They say Barr is “too loyal to President Trump and therefore biased”.. Hmm.. You mean just like Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were to President Obama? Like Janet Reno was to President Clinton? Like Robert F. Kennedy was to his BROTHER President Kennedy??? Give me a break!!

  7. Avatar

    Government Abuse Reply Report comment

    May 3, 2019 at 6:17 am

    Very bad when your government is spying on its citizens that are running for President, and then hatches a plot to remove them from office with lies and propaganda using the FBI, CIA, and Foreign Governments with support from a corrupt media.

    This all happened right here in the USA over the last 3 years!

    Charges and jail time must be brought against all those who are involved.

  8. Avatar

    What A Waste Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Common sense says, there is no “obstruction of justice” if there was no crime committed in the first place.

    These hearings were a total waste of time and energy, all for political bullshit. Listening to the 6 o’clock news these dumb ass Democratic congressmen and women make themselves look like idiots

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Liberals ruin everything. Lets ruin them 2020!!

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Bill Barr was the smartest man in the room today.

  11. Avatar

    Allen Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 9:01 am

    This political BS is turning into the energizer bunny.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 3, 2019 at 11:16 am

      If it wasn’t for the Russian bot that keeps posting under the Anonymous tag, there wouldn’t be much on NIT.

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:24 am

    The Democrats are Corrupt, Desperate and Full of Shit, It should be obvious to everyone by now.

  13. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:24 am

    I think we should incarcerate Mueller, Clinton, Obama, and Soros for what they have cost this nation in time and money

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:23 am

    The news on NBC was all democratic side tonight. I loved Lindsey Grahams opening! The media totally blocks the Republican side. Trump is so right about the media!

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 2, 2019 at 10:54 am

      Lindsey Graham 2015, “Donald Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic bigot.”
      Lindsey Graham 2015 “Trump has no idea what the world is really like and is not qualified to be Commander in Chief.”
      LIndsey Graham 2016, “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed….and we deserve it”
      Lindsey Graham 2016 “Donald Trump is not a conservative Republican. He is an opportunist. He is not fit to be President of the United States.”

      And now, he supports him. It shows you that Graham will only do what money tells him to do.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        May 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm

        You ridiculous, butt hurt, anti-American SISSIES! Shame on you…

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          May 3, 2019 at 11:17 am

          Why would you say that? Can’t take the Republican hypocrisy?

  15. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Barr unnerves them. Had DiFi blubbering today!! She couldn’t get him to say Trump did something obstructive!!!!

  16. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Enough is enough. It’s like watching the kid on one of these TV shows that just looks for everything they can to cause trouble for no reason other than, someone has what they want. In this case, the Democrats just want the success the Trump has brought to the table and proved eveything Oblabla vomited was nothing more than a lie and deliberate maneuvering to cripple this nation.

  17. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:22 am

    The only obstruction is coming from the democrats. They are obsessed with trying to destroy this country and our President. They do not care about Americans only power trying to take over everything.

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Are we paying the democrats to spend our tax money on investigating our President who was elected by the people of the US instead of the business of running the country they was elected to do. Since their wasting our tax money, maybe they can live without their paycheck for not doing their job. Remember this come election 2020. Time to clean house. Time limits need to be voted in by the people for congress.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 3, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Factually, President Trump was elected by the Electoral College, not the majority of US voters.

  19. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Hirono’s comments were judgmental, unprofessional, and a political sideshow yesterday.

  20. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 2, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Muller (dirty cop)was the Director of the FBI when the Obama Administration sold 20 % of our Uranium to Russia. This Investigation was to cover up and overshadow their corruption in the sale of 20% of our Uranium to Russia. That is the real scandal….

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 2, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      They allow the insane access to the Internet there in the mental wing at Mercy.

  21. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Attorney General William Barr is a boot licking “political hack” amid Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported complaints about the way his report was characterized.

    Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire
    referred to him as “Coverup-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iron-Contra.”

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 3, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Liberals lose again! and again and again……
      Join America losers and become a winner while we MAGA!

  22. Avatar

    Shaking My Head Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    There are no words to describe the dog and pony show I watched my fellow Democrats put on today. I watched in horror. Never have I seen more adults make complete fools of themselves. It kills me to say this but I have had all I can take. No one with any common sense would agree with trying to impeach a president in this country using “obstruction” as a reason when the entire original complaint was fabricated. Democrats raise up with me and demand our leaders to quit making us look so stupid.

    I am on the verge of going Independent and switching my allegiance to closing the borders and creating jobs. Trump has done a lot since he took office in spite of this crazy hoax and I have to give him credit for that. Look at job numbers he has created and now we see wages going up. This hoax has been a national disgrace and I am disgusted with my Democratic Party.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 2, 2019 at 10:56 am

      You were never a Democrat Gabe. Quit lying.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        May 2, 2019 at 6:54 pm

        I’m not Gabe whoever that is. I am a lifelong Democrat totally disgusted where the leadership has moved the agenda of the Democratic Party. You whoever you are not open-minded. I am! I know when things have changed inside the party and it’s not for the better.

        • Avatar

          bodacious Reply Report comment

          May 3, 2019 at 11:21 am

          I also contend you never were a Democrat but I agree that the mainstream Democratic party is in shambles – not because of Trump but in spite of him. As long as the DNC continues to support the candidate they want, and ignore what the people in the party want, there will be trouble. It is time that the DNC oust the oldsters and bring in some new people. Forget about super delegates and special interests and become a party for the people.

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            May 3, 2019 at 4:25 pm

            so the party of commies is what you want from the Democratic Party. No wonder people are quitting the party in droves. bodiickles is plum crazy.

  23. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    The only ones guilty of crimes in decades is Obama and Hillary. You are not paying attention. Hence why the left is losing Their ever loving minds. They have become unhinged and savage like cause they know 2020 is coming up and the Russian collusion boomerang is doing a 180 and is going to slam right into the Democratic Party before election

  24. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Democrats don’t seem to understand what No Collusion and no obstruction means. I hope Barr proceeds with full investigation with everyone involved in how all this started. Obama and Clinton Also need to be investigated.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      May 2, 2019 at 9:56 am

      But we do. And for all Barr’s spin, the Mueller report stated that there was considerable evidence of obstruction but that only the Congress could take steps against the President.

      Trump is a master of the spin, but hopefully, loyal and Patriotic Americans can see through his history of lies and half-truths.

      Barr’s equivocation was so sad. ‘there’s a difference between saying I’d like you to fire Comey and giving a direct order to fire Comey.’ Well, yes, but either way, it is obstruction.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        May 2, 2019 at 5:15 pm

        Well teach, then why didn’t Mueller charge him with obstruction? That was his job as special counsel. Charge or stfu.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          May 3, 2019 at 10:16 am

          Mueller stated that, in compliance with DOJ directive, the Special Counsel did not have the authority to charge a sitting President. That authority is reserved for the legislative body.

          Have you even bothered to read the redacted portions that have been made public or are you just relying on WH spin?

          • Avatar

            Anonymous

            May 3, 2019 at 2:20 pm

            Yep. And I watched the hearing. Barr specifically addressed this. Mueller said he didn’t charge. He did not say “but for” the fact of indicting a sitting President. Nice try teach.

  25. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    May 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    All of them, Nadler, Schiff for being typical party stooges, and Warren, Booker, Harris et al shameless in their use of this hearing for their political aspirations. Shameful behavior at best. Anti American in purpose. Run them out on a rail