Donald Trump criticizes Democrats’ treatment of William Barr, praises AG’s ‘fantastic’ performance – USA TODAY
Tensions between DOJ leaders and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team broke into public view in extraordinary fashion as Attorney General William Barr pushed back at complaints over his handling of the Trump-Russia investigation report. (May 1)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump praised Attorney General William Barr’s performance during a four-hour long Senate hearing on Wednesday, saying “he did a fantastic job” and dismissing calls for his resignation as “abuse from people” that are running for president.
“He did a fantastic job today, I’m told. I got to see some of it. He did a fantastic job,” the president said during an interview on Fox Business.
The attorney general during his testimony stood by his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election and widened to include possible obstruction of justice.
Barr’s appearance came less than 24 hours after Mueller issued a rare statement objecting the attorney general’s characterization of the obstruction of justice portion of the report, which he said “threatened to undermine” the purpose of the inquiry.
Also Wednesday, Barr said he will not testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing that was scheduled for Thursday. Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the committee, claimed that he wanted the testimony to include questioning by committee staffers, in addition to lawmakers, which Barr had previously said he would not do.
“Snitty.” That’s the way Attorney General William Barr described a letter from special counsel Robert Mueller expressing concerns about his portrayal of the Russia probe. (May 1)
Trump defended Barr’s decision, saying he believes “they want to treat him differently than they have anybody else.”
“For many, many years, they’ve never done it this way where they’re bringing in outside counsel or something, you know, you elect people they’re supposed to be able to do their own talking,” he said.
Following Barr’s testimony, a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates called on him to resign. Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was the first, followed by Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden.
While he hadn’t heard about the calls for Barr’s resignation, Trump dismissed them as “ridiculous.”
“He’s an outstanding man, he’s an outstanding legal mind,” Trump said of Barr. “He performed incredibly well today.”
Trump went on to criticize several of the candidates, including Harris, who the president said was “probably very nasty” during her questioning of Barr.
“You have three of them running against me and they’re up there ranting and raving like lunatics, frankly, and they’re running, and how is that fair?” Trump said.
“So you have Bill Barr, highly respected, great attorney general, and he’s got to take the abuse from people that are running for office,” Trump said.
In an interview Wednesday night on MSNBC, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Barr was merely “doing the job he was hired to do,” pointing to his audition to act as “the president’s defense lawyer” instead of the nation’s top law enforcer.
Clinton, the Democratic nominee who lost to Trump in the 2016 election, said she understood the calls for Barr’s resignation but said those calls were not realistic.
Clinton also discussed Mueller’s report, telling host Rachel Maddow that she “learned more detail” about the efforts to hurt her 2016 campaign, notably private emails stolen from her and the Democratic Party that were leaked to the media. Mueller wrote in his report that while the Trump campaign did not conspire with the Kremlin to interfere in the election, campaign aides were eager for the help and knew they were benefiting from the foreign efforts.
“[The] Russians were successful,” Clinton said. “They accomplished what they set out to do.”
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY.