Democratic lawmakers are blasting Attorney General Bill Bar for supposedly trying to spin the Mueller report to protect President Donald Trump.
“Turns out Bill Barr lied through his teeth this morning,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in a tweet.
Halfway through the report. Turns out Bill Barr lied through his teeth this morning. #TrumpsRoyCohn— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) April 18, 2019
Before releasing the redacted report on Thursday, Barr told reporters multiple times the Special Counsel’s report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr also noted Special Counsel Robert Mueller examined 10 potential episodes of potential obstruction of justice.
“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report said.
A ‘carefully orchestrated press rollout’
The report suggests Trump may have tried to influence the investigation in several ways — including attempting to have Mueller removed as Special Counsel and trying to limit the scope of the investigation.
“The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report reads.
Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided there was not enough evidence to establish obstruction of justice — but Democratic lawmakers aren’t so sure about that.
“Despite the Attorney General’s spin and carefully orchestrated press rollout — obviously intended for an audience of one — nothing can hide that this report amounts to a formal presentment of misconduct that reached the highest levels of the Trump campaign and administration,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
While Barr may not see enough evidence of obstruction, Democratic lawmakers seem to disagree.
“The differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a joint statement.
"As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding,” the Democratic leaders added.
But Republicans took a different tone — praising Barr for his handling of the Mueller report.
“The nation is fortunate to have an experienced leader like Bill Barr in place to ensure maximum possible transparency while carefully protecting classified material and legally restricted grand jury information. Like all of my colleagues, I look forward to carefully reviewing the report,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a statement.
“Once again, I applaud Attorney General Barr for his commitment to transparency and keeping the American people informed, consistent with the law and our national security interests,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Trump was quick to claim victory with a “Game of Thrones”-inspired tweet.
Barr is set to testify before lawmakers early next month, but several lawmakers have called for Mueller to testify before Congress as well.
“The Special Counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the president. The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions,” said House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Nadler wants Mueller to testify before his committee no later than May 23. Nadler said the redacted report outlines “disturbing evidence” against Trump, but he still plans to use subpoena power to get the unredacted report.
“Contrary to the Attorney General’s statement this morning that the White House ‘fully cooperated’ with the investigation, the report makes clear that the President refused to be interviewed by the Special Counsel and refused to provide written answers to follow-up questions; and his associates destroyed evidence relevant to the Russia investigation,” said Nadler.
House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff has also asked Mueller to come before his committee next month. Barr told reporters he did not have an objection to Mueller testifying.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.