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"The first order of business is to cool the room down." - Graham
#ifonly #BarrHearing
Senator Graham: "can't say I've read it all, but I've read most of it."

Way to establish confidence in the process! #BarrHearing
Senator Graham recites Mueller's resume. "He has served this country in a variety of circumstances long and well. For those who took time to read the report, I think it was well-written, very thorough."
"We may not agree on much, but I hope we can agree he had ample resources, ample time, and talked to a lot of people." - Graham
Graham now talking about White House cooperation. Voluntary interviews, documents produced, no assertion of executive privilege, Don McGahn spent 30 hours with them. "Everybody they wanted to talk to from the Trump campaign on the ground, they talked to."
"Mr. Mueller was the right guy with ample resources and the cooperation he needed to find out what happened was given in my view.

But there were 2 campaigns in 2016, and we'll talk about the second one in a minute."
"Mr. Mueller and his team concluded there was no collusion.
... No coordination No conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia."
Brian Williams breaks in to fact check Senator Graham on the inaccuracy of stating that there was no collusion.
.@NicolleDWallace "It's a stunning mischaracterization" by Senator Graham.
"My takeaway from this report is that we've got a lot of work to do to defend the democracy against Russians and other bad actors." - Graham
"The Other Campaign was investigated...by people in the Department of Justice." (capitalization mine) - Graham
"What do we know? We know that the person in charge of investigating [the Clinton Campaign] hated Trump's guts." - Graham
Senator Graham is actually reading Lisa Page's text messages before Barr has been sworn in. #BarrHearing
I'm taking a break to make a bagel and do some deep breathing.
"Trump is a fucking idiot." Graham quotes a text message from Strozk and then says "sorry to the kids out there."
Graham promises to "look long and hard" and "I can tell you this. If you change the names, y'all'd wanna look, too. If you changed Trump for Clinton, all you people with cameras would wanna look, too." #BarrHearing
Graham is truly talking about bleaching servers of Clinton emails. We are 18 minutes in to this hearing. #BarrHearing
"The bottom line is we're about to hear the results of a 2 year investigation...all things Russia..$25 million...I appreciate very much what Mr. Mueller did for the country. I have read most of the report. For me, it is over." - Graham #BarrHearing
Senator Feinstein welcomes the Attorney General and then immediately goes to Barr's letter which was "widely characterized as a win for the President."
Senator Feinstein talks about Barr's mischaracterization of the report while he looks at her the way a senior partner looked at me when I was a brand new baby lawyer trying to make a creative argument, and I'm not pleased about it, tbh.
Senator Feinstein is reading excerpts from the Mueller report that one who read the entire document might conclude supports a theory of collusion.
"Donald Trump Jr. communicated directly with WikiLeaks and at its request publicly tweeted a link to emails stolen from Clinton's campaign manager." -Feinstein
"The President repeatedly called WH counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to fire Mueller...then later the President repeatedly ordered McGahn to release a press statement and write a letter stating that the President did not order Mueller fired." - Feinstein
"The President used inducements in the form of positive messages...and then turned to attacks and intimidation" toward Michael Cohen. -Feinstein
"More than once, the report documents that legal conclusions were not drawn because witnesses refused to answer questions or failed to remember the events." - Feinstein
"The President himself said more than 30 times that he could not recall or remember enough to answer written questions from the Special Counsel." - Feinstein
Feinstein is citing chapter and verse of the Mueller report. "Congress has the Constitutional duty and authority to investigate the serious findings contained in the Mueller report. I strongly believe that this committee needs to hear directly from special counsel Mueller."
Graham enters the letter from Mueller to Barr into the record and then says "the floor is yours...oh, gotta swear you in, sorry."
Barr: says 2 concerns dominated his confirmation process -- whether he'd impede the investigation or make public his final report. "As you see, Bob Mueller was allowed to complete his work as he saw fit" and "even though the report is to be made to the AG" he made it public.
Barr: requested of Mueller's team that they readily identify grand jury material so they could quickly make the report public. "I wanted that identified so that we could redact that material...quickly."
"I found that the Deputy AG and his deputy...were in regular discussion with the Special Counsel and communicated this request and had discussions about the timing of this report and the nature of this report." - Barr
Barr met with Mueller on March 5 to "get a read out on what his conclusions would be. At that meeting, I reiterated to Special Counsel Mueller that in order to have the shortest possible time before I released the report that they identify 6(e) [grand jury] material."
"Unfortunately, it did not come in that form." Barr is blaming the three-week gap between report receipt and publicizing the report on the Mueller team for not readily identifying grand jury material.
"The President made the decision not to assert executive privilege" despite substantial amounts of material over which he "could have" asserted the privilege. - Barr
"We have made a version of the report available to congressional leaders that only contains redactions of grand jury material" -- only 2% of the report redacted in that version. - Barr
"By now, everyone is familiar with the Special Counsel's bottom line conclusions." Volume I: Barr describes Russia's campaign to interfere in the election. "They concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to establish that there had been any conspiracy or coordination"
Volume II considered obstruction: "He decided not to reach a conclusion. Instead, the report recounts 10 episodes...we were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision and we asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this."
Special Counsel Mueller emphatically stated three times that the OLC opinion is not the only basis for his decision [this is the guidance that sitting President's may not be indicted]
"The Special Counsel was appointed to carry out the investigative and prosecutorial functions of the Department...the powers he was using exist for that purpose, the function of the DOJ, which is to determine whether or not there has been criminal conduct. It's a binary decision.
"We don't conduct investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public....The Deputy and I felt that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel was not sufficient to" charge the President with a crime, and it would be unfair to "leave it hanging." - Barr
"We disagreed with some of the legal theories and felt that many of the episodes would not amount to obstruction as a matter of law...we concluded that the evidence developed...was not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense." - Barr
Barr received Mueller's letter on March 28. Barr says when he got the report, "the body politic was in a high state of agitation, there was massive interest in learning the bottom line results" of the investigation. Refers to media statements and thought he had to say something
"We prepared the letter for that purpose - to state the bottom line conclusions. We used the language from the report to state those bottom line conclusions. I analogize it to" stating the verdict of a trial. "We were not trying to summarize the 410 page report." - Bar
Barr says he offered and Mueller declined to review the letter before it went out.
Then Barr received "Bob's" letter and "then I called Bob and said, 'what's the issue here?'" Says Mueller did not say the letter was inaccurate but that the "press reporting had been inaccurate."
"He was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report." - Barr on Mueller
"I told Bob that I wasn't interested in putting out summaries and I wasn't going to put out the report piecemeal." - Barr
Graham: "Did you work with him to redact the report?"

Barr: basically, our lawyers worked with Mueller's lawyers "there may have been a few judgment calls."
Graham: was there any disagreement about grand jury material or classified information?
Barr: not that I'm aware of
Graham keeps saying about the Mueller report that "you can read it for yourself" despite having told us a couple of times that he did not read it in its entirety himself.
Graham: "He actually has the ability to indict if he wants. He has used that power, correct?"

Barr: yes, also confusing -- why were episodes involving the President investigated if Mueller wasn't going to reach a decision?
Graham: did Rosenstein agree with you not to proceed on obstruction?

Barr: Yes
Barr says the paradigmatic case for obstruction involves an underlying crime. Graham interrupts to ask if there was an underlying crime here, Barr says no.
Graham interrupts again: "let me tell you a little about Comey." Quotes Chuck Schumer as saying he didn't have confidence in Comey; Bernie Sanders that Comey should step down; Nadler that the President should fire Comey.
Graham: "given the fact that a lotta people though Comey should be fired, did you find that to be a persuasive obstruction of justice?"

Barr: says no, a big factor was Comey's refusal to tell the public what he was telling Trump privately, that he wasn't under investigation
Graham asks Barr if he is worried about Russia, safeguarding investigations, the FISA process, the lack of professionalism in the Clinton investigation. Barr answers yes.
Graham asks Barr if he knows and trusts Mueller, if he did a thorough job. Barr answers yes.
Graham: you feel good about your decision?
Barr: absolutely
Feinstein: [recites from report about Trump leaning on McGahn] does existing law prohibit efforts to get a witness to lie, to say something the witness believes is false?

Barr: yes, lie to the government, yes
Feinstein pushing Barr to say that the President pressuring McGahn to lie was obstruction

Barr: "we felt that that episode, the government would not be able to establish obstruction."
Barr says the President raised "Mueller's conflict of interest" and that the decision was left to Rosenstein in the first instruction to McGahn to fire Mueller. Barr says the NYT took this too far in characterizing as an instruction to fire Mueller.
Rosenstein should not get comfortable after he leaves the DOJ because he is definitely going to be a key witness.
"It wasn't necessarily false" in talking about the President's instructions to McGahn to make clear he didn't direct Mueller's firing. - Barr
"We do not think in this case the government could show corrupt intent beyond reasonable doubt." - Barr on McGahn potential obstruction episode
Feinstein says the President instructed McGahn to lie to protect the president.

Barr: "well, that's not a crime" -- plausible that this was for the press not for a proceeding (I'm paraphrasing bc I didn't get every word and was trying to think while typing)
"What is the impact of taking away the underlying crime?" Barr says this makes the case very interesting. Barr says the accusations against the President were false and the President thought it was unfair: "that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel."
Senator Grassley is up and leading with Strozk/Page text messages.
"Have you already tasked any staff to look into whether spying on the Trump campaign was properly predicated and can congress expect a formal report on your findings?" - Grassley

Barr says yes, he has "people reviewing the activities of summer 2016."
Grassley is now talking about the Clintons hiring Fusion GPS because we have fully entered an episode of Hannity.
"The Steele dossier was central to the now debunked collusion narrative" and says Ds paying for the Steele dossier was the "definition of collusion." - Grassley
If you'd like complete information on the costs of the Mueller investigation: politifact.com/truth-o-meter/…
Grassley: says Mueller "dumped on your desk" "200 or so pages" on potential obstruction.
Grassley: was it Special Counsel Mueller's responsibility to make a charging determination?

Barr: the Deputy AG and I thought it was, not just a charging determination but a decision as to whether the President committed criminal acts (paraphrased)
Barr says he isn't sure that he understands why Mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. "I think that if he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he shouldn't have investigated."
Grassley: "there was a culture of unauthorized media contact" in the DOJ. Says it is unacceptable. "What are you doing to investigate unauthorized media contacts?

Barr: "We have multiple criminal leak investigations underway."
Leahy: refers to Barr's congressional testimony that he didn't know what was meant by concerns from the Mueller team about his letter on report conclusions. Says we know now that he had Mueller's letter at that point. "Why did you testify on April 9 that you didn't know..."
...of the concerns being expressed by the Mueller team?"

Barr: "The question from Crist was reports have emerged recently that members of the S.C. team are frustrated with the" letter in that they don't "adequately or accurately" portray the results -- says that's different..
Barr: "The question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy concerning findings.... I talked directly to Bob Mueller, not his team....Mueller never told me the expression of findings was inaccurate."
Leahy: "Mr. Barr, I feel your answer was purposefully misleading."
Leahy: pressing Barr on his characterization that WH "fully cooperated" despite telling Lewandowski to tell Sessions to "unrecuse"

Barr: "He fully cooperated"
Leahy also saying the pressure on Manafort and Cohen was "full cooperation." Leahy is drawing a distinction between obstruction and "full cooperation." He's going after Barr right now rather than the President.
Barr: "I don't see any conflict between that and full cooperation" in a statement that he has to know is bullshit.
Leahy: "the President never testified."

Barr: "He never pushed it."
Leahy: does it trouble you that the Trump campaign never reported any of this to the FBI?

Barr: what would they have reported to the FBI?
Leahy: that they were receptive of information from individuals tied to the Russian government - that doesn't bother you at all?

Barr: define receptive.
Leahy: "I know my time is up and I'm making the chairman nervous."

Graham: "not at all. Very well done."
Cornyn: "a number of prominent democratic members of the senate said that Comey should resign or be fired." Here we go again.
Cornyn is parroting everything Graham and Grassley said. It's not worth sharing.
Brian Williams breaks in on Cornyn, because it's that worthless.
.@NicolleDWallace "I'm not going to dance around this. He's lying" referring to Barr.
I'm always struck by how, after everything, Brian Williams is really good at his job.
MSNBC goes back to the hearing as Cornyn finishes up.
Dick Durbin says Republicans in the room are working together on the "Lock Her Up Defense." "That is totally unresponsive to the reality that the American people want to know." He's the Dick Durbin version of nuclear and I'm here for it.
Durbin: I cannot imagine that you received that letter on March 24 and could not answer Congressman Crist directly...what am I missing?

Barr: "As I explained to Senator Leahy, I talked directly to Bob, and Bob told me his did not have objections..."
Durbin interrupts: attorneys don't put things in writing if they aren't concerned #truth
Barr: my view of events was there was a lot of criticism of the Special Counsel in the ensuing days, and then I got this letter.

Barr is basically saying Mueller wrote the letter because of bad press about Mueller, and I think that's gross.
Barr again says that he delivered the verdict "and the prosecutor tapped me on the shoulder and said the verdict doesn't capture all my work, how about that great cross-examination I did?... My answer is I'm not trying to capture everything."
Barr saying that citing the OLC opinion "prudentially" is different from it being dispositive. Durbin: "I'm just going to stand by what he wrote."
If I were a Democratic Senator on this Committee, I'd just yield all my time to Senator Durbin.
Durbin: "Do you have any objections...can you think of any objections as to why Don McGahn shouldn't testify to this committee?"

Barr: Yes, he was a close advisor to the president...we haven't waived Executive Privilege.... It's a call for the President to make.
Durbin: "I would hope that we can take a close with witness testimony after we look harder at Hillary Clinton's emails."

Graham: "we might just do that."

Barr smirks a little.
Senator Lee: Trump's opponents have exploited the Mueller investigation. For example, "Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked what Vladimir Putin has on Trump. Is there anything to support that Putin has something on Trump?"

Barr: Not that I'm aware of.

Lee cites McCabe, Swalwell
Lee: "We've heard about the President's alleged collusion with Russia but what we've heard" is a conspiracy theory from prominent Democrats (I missed a few words)
Lee is questioning how the investigation started and asks about "spying" on the Trump campaign.
Barr: "many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and a FISA warrant. I'd like to find out whether that is in fact true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort"
Barr thinks if there was any overreach it was at the "upper echelons" of the FBI and maybe the DOJ but those people are gone and Christopher Wray is the best and they're working together to figure out what happened.
Barr: Let me just say that I want to stay away from getting into the details of the FISA issue because that is under investigation by the OIG
Lee thinks the public is panicking about the whims of the DOJ and FBI and the concentration of power in those institutions.
Whitehouse: Is anonymous election funding an avenue for possible foreign election influence and interference?

Barr: Yes
Whitehouse: when did you decide to make that letter [Mueller's] available to us in Congress?

Barr: this morning
Whitehouse: would you concede that you had an opportunity to share that with us when Crist asked a very related question?

Barr: It seems to be a very different question

Whitehouse:I can't even follow that down the road; that's some masterful hair-splitting
Whitehouse and Barr getting testy with each other about whether Barr's letter was a summary. Mueller described it was a summary. Whitehouse: "this is another hair-splitting exercise."
Barr analogizing Mueller to a US Attorney. "His work concluded when he sent the report to the AG. At that point, it was my baby."
"It was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller's." - Barr
Whitehouse: "is there any way for the OLC's opinion to be tested by the judicial branch of government?"

Barr: not that I can think of
Whitehouse: It could be wrong. There are respected legal minds that disagree with it.

Barr: it's hard to find lawyers who agree on anything
Part of the trouble with accountability and representation in our democratic republic is on full display in this exchange about the impact of the OLC opinion. This is all too complex for the public to get interested in and meaningfully follow.
Whitehouse: You used the word spying about authorized investigative DOJ activities...in the entirety of your previous career in the DOJ including as AG, have you ever referred to authorized investigative activities publicly as spying?
Barr: "I think spying is a good English word that doesn't have synonyms because it is the broadest..."

Whitehouse: when did you decide to use it?

Barr: "It was actually off the cuff to tell you the truth." Doesn't get what the issue is, called it "faux outrage."
Whitehouse: It is not commonly used by the department

Barr: it's commonly used by me.

Graham adjourns until 1 p.m.
Missed a few minutes because MY TELEVISION WAS NOT WORKING (NOT HELPFUL). Senator Sasse is up and asking about Derispaka, calls him a "bottom feeding scum sucker" who has "absolutely no alignment with the interest of the US public"
Sasse: I would like you to help us understand what is and isn't allowed re Manafort and Oleg (Russian oligarch). "Is it permissible for someone to be paid by somebody who's basically an enemy of the US and then just volunteer his time for a campaign for President of the US?"
Sasse lamenting that the public will tune this hearing out and see it all as pro-Trump and anti-Trump instead of the really important things this report says. And to that I say, "thank you, Senator."
Sasse: most important thing to take away is that we are going to be under attack in 2020 by Russia "who is pretty clunky at this stuff but also by China who's pretty sophisticated at this stuff."
Barr: "That's a very broad topic, what is legal and illegal? Can you refine it a little bit? What kind of propaganda and that kind of thing? You can't put foreign money, obviously, in a campaign."
Sasse is not having Barr's evasion on this. He wants specific guidance and clarity on whether presidential campaigns are allowed to take volunteers who are on foreign payrolls and can take hacked materials.
Sasse: talking about presidential transitions act and briefings to D and R candidates. "Should we be adding counterintelligence briefings for nominees in a much more detailed way?"
Barr: "Absolutely, I think the danger from countries like China, Russia...is more insidious than in the past because of nominal collectors they have in the US...I think it actually should go far beyond campaigns. More people involved in government have to be educated about this."
Sasse: I would love to work with you and the broader intelligence communities on this more...as a whole of society effort, we have to become much more sophisticated about foreign intelligence and what the Chinese are plotting for the future.
Barr: common for foreign governments to descend on people they think have a shot at winning.

Sasse: "you don't need a bar and a hooker any more. You can surround people digitally...we need to up our game."
I'm grateful for how @BenSasse handled that questioning.
Senator Coons: "we also can't ignore volume II of this report, which I think details unacceptable conduct."
Coons: "I frankly, Mr. AG, have concerns that your March letter obscured that conduct"
Coons: The bottom line is that I think we need to hear more about the Special Counsel's work from the Special Counsel
Coons: a critical three weeks passed between when you delivered the letter with the focus on the principle conclusions and when we got the full redacted report

Barr: why were they critical?
Coons: describing more of obstruction episodes and their importance.
Barr: "I wasn't hiding the ball" -- made clear that there was no finding of obstruction and no exoneration, and described our process to make a judgment. "As I say, from the public interest standpoint, I felt there should be only one thing issued-- the complete report"
Coons: My concern is that gave Pres. Trump and his folks an open field to claim complete exoneration when in fact we should have been more concerned than ever as a result of the second volume
Coons: "going forward, what if a foreign adversary offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020, do you agree with me that the campaign should immediately contact the FBI?"

Barr: long pause. Finally "yes"
Coons REALLY wants to talk to Bob Mueller. That is what you need to know from this section.
Senator Hawley commends Barr in his candor on using the word "spying" and wants to talk more about that. "To your knowledge, this move was completely unprecedented?"

Barr: To my knowledge
Hawley: saying FBI officials were hiding this investigation from their superiors. "Have you looked into the decision of the FBI why they launched a counterintelligence investigation?"

Barr: I am looking into it.
Hawley: "Let me ask you about the 25th Amendment." Says McCabe contemplated using the 25th Amendment "forcing the President from office."
Hawley: wants Barr to say 25th amendment contemplates physical ailments not political differences

Barr: confirms
Hawley is now reading Strozk text messages "who launched this counter-SPY investigation of the President of the United States."
Hawley: "you wanna know why this is all really happening? Because an unelected bureaucrat...who clearly has open disdain or outright hatred for Trump voters...then tried to overturn the results of a democratic election."
Hawley: "it's open blatant prejudice...and to my mind that's the real crisis here, and it is a crisis...if this can go on here, then my goodness gracious we don't have a democracy."
Senator Blumenthal: "you've been pretty adroit and agile in your responses to questions here but I think history will judge you harshly and maybe a bit unfairly because you seem to be the designated fall guy for this report, and I think that conclusion is inescapable"
Blumenthal: breaking out a chart on the elements of obstruction and the 10 episodes described in the report (hat tip to Lawfare)
Blumenthal: "I think your credibility is undermined within the department, this committee and with the American people."
Blumenthal wants to know if Barr has discussed any ongoing investigations related to the report with the WH - substantive or non-substantive

Barr: I don't recall

Blumenthal, basically: GTFO
Blumenthal is pinning Barr here on the cases that are open.

Barr: "my recollection is that I have not discussed those...I can say very surely I did not discuss the substance"

Blumenthal: Will you recuse yourself from those investigations?

Barr: no.
Blumenthal asking Barr about Trump's statement that just about anyone could have hacked the emails. Graham inserts "400-pound person sitting on a bed."
Blumenthal quoting the report on Trump's lies to the public about any contacts between the campaign and a foreign government, involvement in the misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting.
Blumenthal: "In your view, did President Trump...lie to the American people?"

Barr: "I'm not in the business of determining what lies are told to the American people. I'm in the business of determining whether crime has been committed."
Barr saying (correctly) that the DOJ doesn't exist to exonerate people -- just to decide if crime has been committed. "The report is out there. People can decide fro themselves. We're 18 months from an election...
That's a very democratic process. We're out of it now. We have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon." - Barr
Senator Ernst saying that as she visits Iowa's 99 counties she's frequently ask about this. Wants to focus on Russia. "We need to focus on what happened in the 2016 election and then look ahead and make sure we are safeguarding our practices."
Ernst says this was an act of aggression from Russia after talking about how war is no longer symmetrical.
MSNBC is breaking into Ernst's questioning to talk about the Blumenthal exchange.
I wish they had not interrupted her questioning -- I think she's asking about the most important issues right now.
Senator Hirono: says Barr is no different from Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway in protecting the "grifter" in the WH. "You've chosen to be the President's lawyer and side with him over the American people. You should never have supervised this investigation."
Senator Hirono is airing all grievances against Barr, including saying that Barr lied to Congress.
Hirono: "You did exactly what I expected you to do. Which is why I voted against you."
Hirono wants an investigation the way Barr has handled the report.
Hirono: "Being AG is a sacred trust. You have betrayed that trust. You should resign. I have some questions for you."
Hirono: "You seem to think if it's not a crime, then there's no problem...Do you think all of the things President Trump did are ok? Are they what the President of the United States should be doing? [asks specifically about Comey firing]

Barr: "I think the report is clear..."
Hirono interrupts.

Barr: "I do think it's ok that he did what he did and I don't think he did it to stop the investigation."
Hirono: Even if it's not a crime, do you think it's ok for the President to ask his WH counsel to lie? ... Do you think it's ok for the President to offer pardons to people who don't testify against him, to threaten the family of someone who does? Is that ok?
Senator Graham says Senator Hirono has "slandered this man from top to bottom. If you want more of this, you're not going to get it. If you want to ask him questions you can."
Senator Blackburn would like to talk about the culture at DOJ and the FBI. "Every organization has a culture...what seems to have happened is a seedy, cynical, political culture within a group that developed"
Blackburn: TN people care about health care, jobs and the economy, federal judges, and reigning in the federal government.
Blackburn: "What are you doing to rebuild that trust and integrity, so that the American people can say when the FBI and DOJ does its job we can know it was done right?"

Barr: I don't think there's a bad culture in the FBI and DOJ. cites examples of great work
Barr: "to the extent there was overreach, and I don't want to judge people's motives, what we have to be concerned about is a few people at the top getting into their heads that they know better than the American people."
Blackburn asking about the mettle of the Mueller team. Barr declines to say they're the best but says they're competent and tenacious and care about the truth.
Barr: how did we get here when the evidence shows the President was falsely accused for two years of being treasonous?

Blackburn: oh, that's just what Tennesseans say.

Blackburn wants a plan from the DOJ on holding social media platforms accountable during 2020, citing the TN GOP fake account Russians created
Senator Booker: "I fear that you are adding normalcy to a point when we should be sounding alarms as opposed to saying there's nothing to see here."
Booker is pressing Barr on whether the American people should actually be "grateful" for the way the Trump campaign operated -- quoting, pretty liberally, from Barr's letters and statements.
Booker: "you seem unwilling to be even the least bit critical in your summarizations, and I believe it calls into question your credibility."
Senator Tillis: talking about how the "new normal" is that even after all of this work, thorough investigation, people can just decide for political reasons to indict someone. Cites a NYT story. He's not making a ton of sense.
Senator Harris: "Has the President or anyone at the WH ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no. Seems you'd remember something like that."

Barr: "I'm trying to grapple with the word 'suggest.' They've not asked me to open an investigation."
Harris: Hinted? Suggested? Inferred? You don't know?

Barr: I don't know.
Harris wants to know if Barr or Rosenstein personally examined the evidence underlying the report.

Barr: no, we accepted the report as the evidence

Harris is incredulous about this.
Harris: did anyone in your executive office review the evidence supporting the report?

Barr: no

Harris: no. Yet you represented to the American public that the evidence was not sufficient to support obstruction of justice.
Harris: you said it was your baby, what did you mean by that?

Barr: it was my decision whether to disclose it to the public

Harris pressing that it was also his decision not to charge, and he hadn't reviewed the evidence
Harris: will you agree to consult with DOJ ethics officials about whether your recusal in the 14 pending investigations is appropriate? I think the American public has seen quite well that you are biased.

No one does a hearing like Senator Harris.
Senator Harris wants to know if ethics officials cleared Rosenstein to make a charging decision despite being a witness in the investigation. She is incredulous again.

Barr: "he was the acting AG on the investigation. I am informed that when I arrived he had been cleared."
Senator Crapo wants to know how the WaPo got Mueller's letter and suggests Barr find that out.
Crapo says he believes culture at FBI is solid and strong but a few individuals have not been holding up the standards of the FBI that the American people expect. Refers to Inspector General report on...Strozk and Page text messages. Clearly bias, but can't prove it impacted work
Crapo: "I want to get at whether you agree that there is bias at the FBI and whether you are undertaking activities to address that."

Barr: political bias?

Crapo: yes, resulting in biased conduct

Barr: I haven't seen that...Wray has changed out people
Barr: Wray is focused on making sure the bureau isn't biased

Crapo: is it inappropriate to leak politically sensitive information to the public for the purpose of impacting public discussion?
Barr: yes, I think some leaks are for political purposes. More leaks are bc people don't like a decision and are trying to control people up the chain.
Crapo is now onto the Democrats paying for the Steele Dossier. Sheesh.
Senator Cruz being very obsequious about the AG. You knew you'd get "the Kavanaugh treatment." Apparently, Senator Cruz wanted my approval rating of him to drop ten levels past rock bottom.
Senator Cruz approves of the AG's job performance. So there's that.
"A word that occurred almost none at all is the word 'Russia.'" - Cruz, who maybe has been in another hearing?
Cruz: "Instead, the principle attack the Democratic senators have marshaled on you concerns this March 27 letter from Robert Mueller, and it's an attack I want people to understand just how revealing it is. If this is their whole argument, they ain't got nothing."
👆Actual quote
I think Cruz has made the calculus that this is another Kavanaugh opportunity, and he wants to curry the Lindsay Graham favor from the President.

He has Barr giggling about how silly these Democrats are. I promise.
Cruz: to the best of your knowledge, when did surveillance of the Trump campaign begin?

Barr: the position today appears to be the beginning of July but I don't know
Cruz: do we know if the Obama administration investigated any other candidates running for President?

Cruz says Barr has had remarkable transparency. "I would ask you to bring the same transparency to this line of questioning about whether and the extent to which the previous administration politicized the DOJ..."
Senator Graham would like to do a second round quickly. 3 minutes each. I cannot imagine what the point of a second round is.
Senator Leahy makes the point that Barr has been saying no underlying crime, but, like, there are lots of crimes...
Leahy: Do you commit that you will not interfere with the dozen ongoing investigations?

Barr: I will supervise those investigations as Attorney General.
Leahy: Will you let them reach natural conclusions without interference from the WH at least?

Barr: yes
Barr talking about the president's power to terminate a proceeding when he thinks he's being falsely accused reminds me very much of the reflections on the unitary executive from Vice.
Barr: "We now know that he was being falsely accused."

Leahy: "I don't agree with that."
Durbin: do you believe the predicate for opening the investigation was appropriate?

Barr: "I'd have to see exactly what the report was from" the Australian official who contacted us about Papadopoulos
Durbin: investigation about whether a Malaysian individual improperly contributed to the Trump inauguration, and Barr sought a waiver to participate in this case despite a conflict

Barr: I was asked to seek a waiver in this case.

Durbin: do you see the problem here?
Barr: no, I don't.

Durbin: I don't understand why you'd touch that hot stove.

Barr consulting with person next to him. "The criminal division asked me to get a waiver because of the importance of this investigation overall. I didn't seek it. The impetus did not come from me."
Durbin: who would that be?

Barr: the head of the criminal division, apparently they discussed it with the ethics division then made the recommendation
Whitehouse is trying to nail down a decision-making timeline. When did Barr get the report vs the making the obstruction decision vs hearing from Mueller, etc
Whitehouse: Can you assure me that nothing about the obstruction issue and the Mueller report itself was discussed when you had a brown bag lunch with OLC?

I think the answer here is no.
Graham is worried about timing because of a Senate vote. Turns over to Klobuchar.

Klobuchar: did the Special Counsel review the President's taxes and the Trump Org's financial statements?

Barr: i don't know.
Klobuchar: Can you find out?

Barr: yes, or you can ask Mueller

Klobuchar: well, I think I'll do that, too, but I'm also asking you
Klobuchar is now asking about inferences that can be drawn from a pattern of obstructive acts -- this is a legal theory question

Barr: now making clear he disagrees with Mueller team on the approach of trying to determine the subjective intent of a facially lawful act
I'm concluding from this hearing that Barr thinks obstruction should never have been on the table, not investigated, no volume II of the report.
Klobuchar says she wants to get in a few more questions "like Senator Whitehouse did" in a not-so-subtle way
Klobuchar: are the President's actions detailed in the report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

Barr: the evidence in the report is conflicting and there's different evidence
Blumenthal: tell us about the conversation between yourself and Bob Mueller shortly after your summary was issued. He called you?

Barr: I called him.
Blumenthal: how long did the conversation last?

Barr: maybe 15 minutes, there were multiple witnesses in the room, it was on speakerphone (Rosenstein was there along with others)
Barr: I said, "Bob What's up with the letter? Why didn't you just pick up the phone and call me if there was an issue?" He said they were concerned about the way the media was playing this.
Barr: I asked him if he felt my letter was misleading or inaccurate, he said, no, he felt that the press coverage way, and a more complete picture of his thoughts and the context would deal with that. I suggested that I would rather get the whole report out
Blumenthal: there is nothing in Mueller's letter to you about the press. It's about your characterization

Barr: well, the letter just speaks for itself

Blumenthal: it does.... this letter was an extraordinary act.
Barr: I don't consider Bob at this point a career prosecutor.

Blumethal is amused by this.
Barr: the letter's a bit snitty and I imagine it was written by one of his staff people.

Barr: there were notes taken of the call

Blumenthal: may we have those notes?

Barr: no.

Blumenthal: why?

Barr: why should you?

Graham ends the hearing by saying he's going to ask Mueller about Barr's characterization of the call.
Graham: I'm going to give Mueller a chance to correct anything he finds misleading or inaccurate.

Lee: thanks for your service and civility and composure in a needlessly, unfairly hostile environment
Graham thought it was all interesting and except for getting off in the ditch a few times "the committee did pretty good and this is what democracy is."

It's over. Carry on, everyone.
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