Three Justice Department veterans denounced Attorney General William Barr's misleading claims about the possibility of special counsel Robert Mueller testifying.
House Democrats want the special counsel to testify about his 22-month investigation of President Donald Trump's campaign ties to Russia and apparent efforts to obstruct justice, but the White House has asserted executive privilege over Mueller's full report and the underlying evidence.
That appears to contradict Barr's claim that "it’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify."
"So Barr’s claim (Thursday) morning that it was up to Mueller whether to testify was, at best, deeply misleading. Again," said Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman.
Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, agreed the attorney general had ruined his credibility.
"I’m starting to think we can’t trust anything this Attorney General says," she said.
@matthewamiller I’m starting to think we can’t trust anything this Attorney General says.— Joyce Alene (@Joyce Alene)1558104382.0
Mimi Rocah, a longtime assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and an MSNBC contributor like Miller and Vance, underscored just how unusual that strong criticism was for these Justice Department veterans.
"I don’t think people understand how hard it is for someone like you (& me) to say something like that," Rocah said.
Vance agreed, saying she had served many attorneys general in her decades in the Justice Department without speaking out so forcefully.
"Beyond hard, right?" Vance said. "I worked for every Attorney General starting with Thornburgh in 1991 and ending with Lynch in 2017."