MSNBC panel baffled that Bill Barr doesn’t have the confidence to go up against a congressional staffer
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA, left) and AG nominee William Barr (right). Image via screengrab.

During a Thursday morning panel discussion with Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff and Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake speculated on why Attorney General Bill Barr is too afraid to show for a Congressional hearing about the decisions around the special counsel's report.

Barr was scheduled to appear before Congress for a short 30-minute hearing to answer questions about Robert Mueller's report and the reasons Barr misled the public about what was in it.

Members of Congress wanted to have a Congressional staffer ask questions, much in the way Republicans did with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her hearing. Barr refused to appear, saying he didn't like the format and refused to answer questions from someone who wasn't an elected official. During his Senate hearing, Barr ignored tough questions by claiming "I don't know," and rambled on to run out the five-minute clock for members who had questions.

"I’m a little surprised that William Barr doesn’t want to submit to this, even if it’s by counsel for the committee," said Blake. "Whatever you think of his actions, in this case, I don’t think Democrats landed a lot of gloves on him yesterday. In the confirmation hearings, they largely were nullified by answers he gave them and suggested answers were good."

Blake went on to say that Barr is "good on his feet" when it comes to quick questions. Indeed, Barr has been a lawyer for over 40 years.

"Whatever you think about him, he is smart," Blake said. "He is good on his feet. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. The idea that some 30-minute questioning round by actual counsel rather than members of Congress is going to trip him up, I have a hard time believing that he really doesn’t believe in himself to get through that."

It's unclear why Barr refuses to sit for a serious hearing the way former Secretary Hillary Clinton did. During the 2016 campaign, Clinton answered questions from House Republicans for 11 hours. Barr is refusing to answer questions for 30 minutes.

Watch the full panel discussion below: