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Michel writes: "On Monday, the attorney general said he was 'disappointed' that the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees subpoenaed Mueller, who will be testifying before Congress on July 17."

Bill Barr. (photo: Getty Images)
Bill Barr. (photo: Getty Images)

Barr Changes His Tune on Mueller's Testimony

By Casey Michel, ThinkProgress

10 July 19

After claiming he didn't care about the special counsel appearing before Congress, the attorney general flips the script.

arlier this year, following his bungled roll-out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in 2016, Attorney General William Barr claimed he had “no objection” to Mueller testifying before Congress.

Now, Barr has changed his tune.

On Monday, the attorney general said he was “disappointed” that the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees subpoenaed Mueller, who will be testifying before Congress on July 17.

“I was disappointed to see him subpoenaed because I don’t think it serves an important purpose dragging Bob Mueller up if he in fact is going to stick to the report,” Barr told reporters. “It seems to me the only reason for doing that is to create some kind of public spectacle.”

Barr claimed that he changed his position based on seeing Mueller’s own reaction to the possibility of speaking before Congress.

“I said all along that I would not object to [Mueller] going up to testify, but after I said that, he indicated that he was not interested in testifying,” Barr added. “And he held a press conference and issued a press statement making it clear that his testimony really was the report itself and he really wasn’t going to go beyond the report.”

While Mueller is no longer a member of the Justice Department, Barr said it would “back” Mueller if the former special counsel opted to ignore the congressional subpoena.

“If Bob decides he doesn’t want to be subject to [congressional testimony], then the Department of Justice would certainly back him,” Barr said. 

Barr added that the Justice Department would try to block any further attempts from Congress to compel other members of Mueller’s team to talk. 

House Democrats reacted sharply to Barr’s comments — not least because they presented an about-face from his prior claims of neutrality.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House intelligence committee, tweeted on Monday evening that it was “no surprise Barr doesn’t welcome Mueller’s testimony,” pointing to Barr’s prior attempts to mislead the public about the contents of Mueller’s report, which was made public in April.

“Barr misled the public about Mueller’s report, and wants his own deception to stand,” Schiff tweeted Monday evening, adding, “The public has a right to hear the truth, from Mueller himself, about Trump’s misconduct and ongoing national security risks.”

But Barr’s bungling of the Mueller report’s release — which Barr spun in defense of President Donald Trump, despite its descriptions of at least 10 possible instances of obstruction involving Trump — isn’t the only thing that’s angered House Democrats. Barr has time and again ignored congressional subpoenas to discuss actions he took related to that investigation on behalf of the Trump administration.

As a result, the House oversight committee took the near-unprecedented step last month of voting to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee is also still considering holding a similar vote on Barr, stemming directly from Barr’s unwillingness to discuss his role in the roll-out of the Mueller report — a role Mueller will almost certainly be asked about next week.

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-28 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-10 09:56
What a waste article. Of course, Barr does not want a spectacle, which is what a congressional testimony by Mueller will be. Democrats will do anything they can to get Mueller to say his report was wrong and that Trump really did collude with Russia (as the hate Trump media is now saying). And republican will do all they can to show that Mueller was a fraud from the start.

Mueller will be attacked from both sides. Both sides are filled with rage and hate generated by the Russiagate process and mostly the media. Mueller will sit mostly silent as members of congress vent their rage.

Originally I wanted Mueller to testify. I think he needed to answer questions. But now I really don't care. Russiagate is dead. Mueller was all along a dishonest ex-FBI director.

But it looks as if we will get the spectacle. It will be very ugly -- and the ugly will come from both sides. It is tempting to say that Mueller deserves this humiliation and raking over the coals for the really terrible job he did in this investigation. But I just don't want to go through it anymore.
+16 # BetaTheta 2019-07-10 12:12
Of course Barr does not want a "spectacle" that may lead to greater public awareness of how his own carefully crafted spectacle was misleading. In referring to the written report as the last word, he is counting on the vast majority of Americans not to read it.
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-10 13:22
BT -- I think it is more that both Demos and Repubs will be out for Mueller's blood. Demos because he did not go far enough and Repubs because he went to far.

In reality, Mueller's two year investigation and his report were nothing more that puffery. He was just slamed down by a federal judge for making claims in the report that had not been determined in court. The report is filled with such claims and it is illegal for a federal prosecutor to make them.

Aaron Matte has a careful study of the Report now on RealClearInvest igations that demonstrates that the Report does not even claim or prove what everyone is saying it claims: that is, that Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

"CrowdStrikeOut : Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims"

You can be sure Repubs will have read all of this and will come out swinging. Demos really don't have much to go on. The Report says there was no conspiracy or cooperation between Trump and Russia. Do they really think Mueller will change his mind right there on national TV? Not likely.
-3 # Depressionborn 2019-07-11 11:06
Do you, RR, know why the left is so intent on destroying the nation?
+4 # crispy 2019-07-11 15:58
RR doesn't know but why ask such a question since the premise is false?
It's clear to me that republicans and specifically the Trump administration has divided the nation and has engaged in multiple violations of the law and ignored court judgements; most recently it is ignoring even the Supreme Court judgement on the census question. This is the destruction of our republic by a fascist authoritarian president whose models are Hitler, Putin, Borselano, Kim, President Zi (China)and any dictator who is right-wing.
-4 # Depressionborn 2019-07-11 20:54
falsehoods. shame on you crisp
0 # CenterLefty 2019-07-14 11:07
BT, you nailed it: Barr wants to avoid anything that makes it obvious to the American people that he was trying to pull the wool over our collective eyes with his laughably transparent attempt to control the public discourse -- and, indirectly, the Congressional discourse -- on the Mueller Report’s findings.

Barr’s objective was, and remains, to advance Trump’s narrative that “there’s nothing to see here folks... just keep it moving.“ The Dems don’t want to impugn Mueller’s integrity, as Rodion Raskolnikov suggests here, nor would they succeed if they tried. The Dems want Mueller to clarify that, but for the DOJ’s clear policy that you can’t indict a sitting president, Mueller would have found Trump indictable for obstruction and possibly for conspiracy. Mueller probably won’t say that. The Dems will probably settle for the Q&A to make it clear that, regardless of Mueller’s carefully chosen words, the facts show Trump to be guilty of multiple crimes.

Raskolnikov, as opinionated as you can be in favor of Trump’s innocence, it’s nonetheless intriguing to see you swallowing Barr’s narrative hook, line & sinker. If it gets bloody, it won’t be because of Dem attacks on Mueller; Mueller is an honorable public servant, and his reputation will remain so. It gets bloody if Trump and Barr continue to stonewall -- that was Nixon’s strategy as well, until it failed -- in the face of growing, and increasingly public, evidence of Trump’s and his associates’ guilt.
0 # chapdrum 2019-07-10 12:29
It's unlikely that Mueller will reveal anything not already found in his report. It'll be the usual dog-and-pony show.
+3 # crispy 2019-07-11 16:00
He might clarify things and an audio version is better absorbed by the public who has not read the report.
Wait and see!
-1 # tsyganka 2019-07-10 16:39
Collusion by trump specifically will likely not be proved. Collusion by his venal, demented crime family is another matter.

Obstruction of justice by trump likely Will be proved.

Interference in our elections can be proved. Thing is, it's not only by Russian hackers, troll farms, and so forth. It's also by Republicans, right-wingers, tax evaders, plutocrats, bought war-agenda media, and - yes - Democrats, including H. Clinton's bought DNC.
+5 # chapdrum 2019-07-10 12:27
Somewhere, a short list and a long list of those Americans due for a stint on Guantanamo are being prepared.
-1 # harleysch 2019-07-11 05:00
If members of Congress are really interested in investigating "Russian interference," why not call Bill Binney, former tech whiz at NSA, whose forensic study of the emails delivered to Wikileaks debunks the charge of Russian hacking?

Dems and many Republicans accept uncritically the original intelligence committee assessment that "Russia" hacked the Podesta and DNC computers. But CrowdStrike has been discredited, and its conclusions shown to be self-serving, reflecting its ties to the Russophobic Atlantic Council, and not any evidence of hacking.

Mueller refused to hear from Binney, and most media have blacked out his findings. One must wonder why!
+2 # crispy 2019-07-11 19:35
It would be interesting to read the forensic study Binney conducted. For sure he is a right-wing guy.
0 # CenterLefty 2019-07-14 11:15
Harley, you say that ex-NSAer Bill Binney concluded the Russians were not the ones who hacked the Dems' emails and delivered them to Wikileaks. And you say it in an almost Trump-like way, to plant the far bigger thought that there is really nothing to the whole story of the Russian hacking of the US election.

Two problems with that.

First, I'm no Binney expert, but I do know he retired from the NSA 18 years ago, and the older and further removed from the NSA he gets, the harder it becomes to know whether he is rightwing, leftwing or just a no wing conspiracy nut kind of guy. What is clear is that he has a frequent outlet for his views in far right media -- Breitbart, Fox, Infowars -- which pretty much makes the case for who he is and the lack of credibility his words carry.

Secondly, even IF there were serious doubt about how Wikileaks got the Dems' emails, that is but one piece of the Russian election tampering. With almost half of Mueller's report laying out the details of the Russians' actions, plus the facts already laid out last year in Mueller's indictments of Russian officials, the only people who can still claim the Russians did NO meddling are (a) Donald Trump, (b) Rudy Giuliani, depending on the day of the week, and (c) Vladimir Putin, who can take pride in being the first foreign dictator to install an American president of his own choosing AND be able to openly deny it, knowing he'll be backed up in whatever he says by... the U.S. president himself!
-3 # MikeAF48 2019-07-11 09:36
This obstacle coarse that Trump, Barr is exciting to watch develop. We democrats are keeping this republican party. At bay, progressives are all over there asses.

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