The Morning Briefing: Barr Won't Take the House Judiciary Committee's Bait
Good Thursday morning.
Here is what's on the president's agenda today:
- The president and first lady participate in the National Day of Prayer Service
- The president meets with Republican members of the Senate
House Judiciary votes to bring in lawyers to question Barr; Barr will not testify
The House Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to allow for an extra hour in their scheduled firing squad "hearing" with Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr told them ahead of time that he was willing to answer their questions but he wasn't going to answer question from the committee's staff lawyers. The Democrats want to create a spectacle and since most of them are lawyers, there's no reason to bring more lawyers in other than to give off the appearance of some kind of trial. And we all know that his is exactly that, a trial.
The Department of Justice released a statement, via the Daily Caller:
“Today, the Attorney General testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for over five hours. The Attorney General also voluntarily released the Special Counsel’s confidential report with minimal redactions to Congress and the public, made an even-less redacted report available to Chairman Nadler and congressional leadership (which they have refused to review), and made himself available to the Committee by volunteering to testify this week. Unfortunately, even after the Attorney General volunteered to testify, Chairman Nadler placed conditions on the House Judiciary Committee hearing that are unprecedented and unnecessary,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
“Congress and the Executive branch are co-equal branches of government, and each have a constitutional obligation to respect and accommodate one another’s legitimate interests. Chairman Nadler’s insistence on having staff question the Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, is inappropriate. Further, in light of the fact that the majority of the House Judiciary Committee – including Chairman Nadler – are themselves attorneys, and the Chairman has the ability and authority to fashion the hearing in a way that allows for efficient and thorough questioning by the Members themselves, the Chairman’s request is also unnecessary. The Attorney General remains happy to engage directly with Members on their questions regarding the report and looks forward to continue working with the Committee on their oversight requests,” Kupec continued.
Nadler has suggested that the committee will subpoena Barr and hold him in contempt if he does not appear and turn over the complete report. Barr has made the complete report available, excluding grand jury testimony, to some lawmakers, but only three Republicans have viewed it so far. Obviously, it's super important to the Democrats.
Barr Senate Judiciary hearing
AG Barr testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee for about five hours. If it wasn't clear in the media coverage it was certainly clear in the hearing that the Democrats are taking out their rage over the Mueller report's failure to charge President Trump with any crimes, on Barr.
The big issue for the Democrats was the letter Barr wrote to Congress after he received the report from Mueller and Barr's decision to simply summarize the bottom line findings: no charges or evidence for conspiracy with RUSSIA and no charges on obstruction. Barr, along with Deputy AG Rosenstein, evaluated the case for and against obstruction presented by the report and decided there was not a prosecutable case.
One of the priorities in the Senate hearing was to delegitimize Barr, paint him as a partisan hack and insist he resign over their manufactured slights. Several senators insisted that Barr had misrepresented the Mueller report in his letter and cited the letters written by Mueller to Barr that were conveniently leaked right before his testimony to create maximum drama. Let me tell you what's really going on here.
Barr is in charge of the Department of Justice and Mueller and his team work for Barr. Mueller turned over his work product to his boss Barr and then he is DONE. It's Barr's report, "my baby" as he called it yesterday, and he can do with it whatever he wants. This is according to the Janet Reno-created statute that grants the special counsel the authority it has. Barr didn't have to release one letter of that report and it would have been entirely legal. If Mueller was unhappy with the how Barr chose to roll out the release of the report, that is just too damn bad. Mueller wanted more of the report released, like the summaries he and his team presumably created to prime the outrage pump and frame the narrative before the entire report could be released. But guess what, that's not Mueller's call. It's his boss Barr's call. Too bad.
I bet that all the well-heeled Mueller attorneys along with Mueller himself are getting a ton of private and public heat for not delivering Trump in chains. They probably thought they would all get a parade.
Barr has no reason to misrepresent a report he was planning to release to the public. But the Democrats and the media are upset because when Barr stripped out the Scooby snacks and narratives littering the report, the simple facts did not conform to their ongoing assault against the Trump administration. It was clear yesterday that many Democrat senators were upset because Barr got to "set the narrative" for three weeks. The narrative, above all, is most important to the Democrats, but Barr's rollout allowed Trump to claim exoneration and that really pissed them off. Sad!
Some senators questioned and attacked Barr about his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction. Well, why didn't Mueller recommend obstruction charges for Trump?
Another reason the Democrats are attacking Barr and calling for his resignation is because he is investigating the hyper-politicized DoJ, corrupt intelligence apparatus and the origins of the investigation against Trump. Those investigations are going to be very bad for the Democrats. Very bad.
Hall of Shame:
A great start! Lindsey Graham Drops F-Bomb on Live TV
Your daily WTF:
And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!