Top House Democrats say Barr doesn’t deserve benefit of doubt

Top House Democrats said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr does not deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Reps. Adam Schiff of California, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and Jerry Nadler of New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, argued that Barr had been put in place as attorney general to protect President Donald Trump, and said Congress must see the entire Mueller report.

“If he came to the job clean, without any history in this investigation, I would say, yes, give him the benefit of the doubt. But he didn’t,” Schiff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”

He said Barr “wrote a 19-page legal memo, which was basically a job application, saying, if you pick me for your AG, I will have your back on the obstruction of justice case. And that’s exactly what he’s done.”

In June 2018, Barr, who was a private citizen at the time, authored a memo saying he thought the obstruction investigation was “fatally misconceived.”

Last month, Barr submitted to Congress his summary of the main conclusions from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In the letter, Barr quoted Mueller as saying the report did not establish that Trump’s campaign or associates had conspired with Russia. Barr wrote that Mueller did not have sufficient evidence to establish obstruction of justice, but that Mueller wrote that his report did not exonerate the President.

Barr said last week that Mueller’s report will be released to Congress and the public by “mid-April, if not sooner.” Barr also offered to testify shortly after the report is released.

Schiff said that Barr said during his Senate confirmation process that “he would not commit even to following the advice of ethics lawyers. You cannot blind yourself to that conflict of interest.”

“So, no, I’m not prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Schiff said. “I’m prepared to hold him to his commitment during the confirmation that he would be as transparent as law and policy would allow. He’s not doing that.”

Nadler echoed Schiff’s comments and told CNN that Barr “deserves no benefit of the doubt,” also citing his “19-page memo saying that the whole investigation was wrong to start with.”

“The attorney general is an agent of the President. He auditioned for his job by saying that this kind of investigation was wrong and that the President could not possibly commit obstruction of justice, which is a rather extreme legal view,” Nadler told Blitzer.

Nadler said Barr “got the job in order to protect the President,” adding that Barr “was brought in to protect him personally. He’s a political appointee.”

Nadler said Democrats are asking that the “entire Mueller report and all the underlying documentations be given to Congress.”

“The President apparently forgets that Ken Starr’s report, all 400-and-some-odd pages of it … had already been given to the entire Congress, which is what we’re asking now,” Nadler said.