Barr defends clearing Trump on obstruction

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on May 1, 2019 - Duration: 01:38s

Barr defends clearing Trump on obstruction

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday fended off Democratic criticism of his decision to clear U.S. President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice in the Russia inquiry and faulted Special Counsel Robert Mueller for not reaching a conclusion of his own on the issue.

Nathan Frandino has more.

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Barr defends clearing Trump on obstruction

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, SAYING: "The letter's a bit snitty." With his own credibility on the line, U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday vigorously defended his controversial handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, especially his decision that President Donald Trump's actions had NOT amounted to a crime, even though Mueller said Trump had repeatedly tried to impede the investigation.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, SAYING: "I don't think the government had a prosecutable case." The embattled attorney general explained his actions amid the release of a bombshell letter Mueller had sent to Barr complaining that Barr's original 4-page summary of his report had failed to capture the "context, nature, and substance" of Mueller's nearly two-year investigation.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, SAYING: "And I called Bob and said 'what's the issue here?'

And I asked him if he was suggesting the March 24 letter was inaccurate.

He said no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate." Barr DECIDED not to seek obstruction charges against Trump after Mueller chose not to make his own call on obstruction.

Mueller pointedly did not exonerate Trump, leaving further action up to Congress.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

PATRICK LEAHY, (D) , SAYING: "I feel your answer was pointedly misleading." Republicans jumped to Barr's defense, and sought to turn the focus elsewhere.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA, SAYING: "When the Mueller report is put to bed, and it soon will be, this committee is going to look long and hard at how this all started." Barr is due to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but whether he shows up remains to be seen.

The panel has adopted an aggressive questioning format that has prompted Barr to threaten to cancel that appearance.

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