Bill Barr gets cornered for misleading Congress about Mueller's concerns -- and offers a dubious excuse
Senator Patrick Leahy and Attorney General Bill Barr. (Screenshot)

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont went after Attorney General William Barr with a vengeance during his Wednesday morning testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barr was questioned about the letter he sent to Congress on March 24, when the attorney general offered an assessment of the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation. Mueller has disagreed with Barr’s characterization of his report, and Leahy addressed that disagreement when questioning Barr.

Leahy told Barr that “contrary to what you said on April 9,” Mueller “wrote to you” on March 27 “expressing very specific concerns that your March 24 letter” failed to capture the “context, nature and substance of his report.”

Leahy continued, “What really struck me: Mr. Mueller wrote that your letter threatened to undermine a central purpose for which the Department (of Justice) appointed the special counsel.”

Leahy asked Barr why, on April 9, he said he was unaware of the “concerns” being expressed by Mueller’s team “when, in fact, you had heard those concerns directly from Mr. Mueller two weeks before.”

Barr responded that he “was not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings.” Leahy replied that Barr seemed to “have learned the filibuster rules even better than senators do,” implying that Barr was being evasive.

After Leahy repeated his question, the attorney general responded, “I talked directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his team. And even though I did not know what was being referred to, and Mueller had never told me that the expression of the findings was inaccurate. But I did then volunteer that I thought they were talking about the desire to have more information put out. But it wasn’t my purpose to put out more information.”