Bill Barr gets defensive as Democrat grills him for coming to his own conclusions about the Mueller report
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)/C-SPAN screen shot

Attorney General Bill Barr got defensive after Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen grilled him over how he concluded President Donald Trump hadn't obstructed justice.


"You sent a letter to the United States Congress that included something which was a principal conclusion, which was not a conclusion reached by the Mueller report," Van Hollen said. "You indicated that they did not exonerate the president -- you did. So I'm asking you whether you agree with Mueller that there were difficult issues of law and fact in making that assessment."

"That is not a question I really can answer until I think --" Barr began, in an effort to stonewall the Senator.

"But you did -- you looked at the report, right?" Van Hollen pressed. "You looked at the evidence of the report and you made a decision. And you said the president is not guilty of criminal obstruction of justice. I'm asking you, in your review of the report, did you agree with Mueller that there were difficult issues of law and fact?"

"I'm going to give my reaction and comments about the report after the report --" Barr began again, but Van Hollen cut him off.

"But you put your view of the report out on this issue of obstruction of justice," he said. "Nobody asked you to do that. You put your assessment -- you made a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice that was not contained in the Mueller report, and I'm simply asking you when you looked at the evidence, did you agree with Mueller and his team that there was difficult issues of law and fact?"

Again Barr refused to answer.

"Mr. Attorney General, the thing is, you put this out there," said Van Hollen, growing frustrated. "The president went out and tweeted the next day that he was exonerated. That wasn't based on anything in the Mueller report with respect to obstruction of justice, that was based on your assessment, that was on March 24. And now you won't elaborate at all as to how you reached that conclusion. I'm not asking about what is in the Mueller report, I'm asking about your conclusion."

"It was the conclusion of a number of people including me and I am obviously the attorney general," Barr replied, who continued to stonewall and Van Hollen laughed in his face.

"Mr. Attorney General, you put your conclusion out there," he said. "And now you refuse to talk about any basis of your conclusion. I'm not asking for what's in the report, I'm asking you how you reached your conclusion."

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