Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal said Attorney General William Barr should resign for deceiving Americans over the findings of the Mueller report, which the Senate Judiciary Committee peppered the Trump appointee on Wednesday.
During a tense day of testimony by Barr on Capitol Hill, Blumenthal told the Justice Department head that his interpretation of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was glaringly inaccurate.
Blumenthal’s comments came less than 24 hours after the revelation that Robert Mueller sent Barr a letter March 27 complaining that Barr’s public summary of the report “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of Mueller’s work and his conclusions.
“I think history will judge you harshly and maybe a bit unfairly because you seem to have been the designated fall guy for this report,” Blumenthal said. “I think that your credibility is undermined within the department, in this committee and with the American people. You, in effect, cleared the president on both so-called collusion and obstruction.”
Blumenthal pressed Barr on whether he has briefed anyone at the White House, including the president, on multiple ongoing investigations by federal prosecutors in New York and Virginia that run parallel to the Mueller investigation.
Barr said he had no recollection of sharing details from those investigations and answered that he has no plans to recuse himself from those cases.
Mueller was not able to establish that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election, but concluded there was interference.
The special counsel and former FBI director grappled with the question of whether the president or his associates obstructed justice, which Mueller concluded was forestalled by top White House officials who bucked the president. Mueller ultimately left it to Barr and Democrats in Congress to feud over obstruction of justice charges.
“We’re not in the business of exoneration,” Barr told Blumenthal.
Barr had been scheduled to return Thursday to Capitol to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, but canceled his testimony after Democrats decided that committee lawyers from both parties could ask questions of the attorney general. The committee chairman, New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, said he is considering a contempt citation for Barr.
Neil Vigdor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org