A former U.S. Attorney blasted Attorney General William Barr for behaving like President Donald Trump's legal protection during a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Barr testified Wednesday before the Republican-led panel before abruptly refusing to return to Capitol Hill for another hearing before the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, and MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance explained what she found surprising about his decision to override Robert Mueller's concerns about obstruction.
"The attorney general as a practical matter can't read every piece of evidence in the case, he has to be able to rely on his team," said Vance, who served nearly eight years as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. "Here's when I find Bill Barr's, his practice in this regard surprising."
"It's surprising to me that having made a decision that he was, in essence, going to overrule the (special counsel) team on obstruction," she added, "(Barr) didn't meet with them, hear their views and talk with them about the evidence and then decide whether it was witness testimony or pieces of financial documentation he needed to go back and personally review."
Vance didn't fault Barr for not looking at every single piece of evidence, which she said was impractical, but she was concerned about his decision-making process.
"He should have interacted with the team and heard their views," Vance said. "The fact he didn't do that is a red flag."
Mueller explicitly told Barr in a letter that he disagreed with his summary of the investigative report, and Vance said the attorney general was not forthcoming about their four interactions before the full report was released.
"It casts the attorney general's testimony, I think, in a really distasteful light," Vance said. "Whether or not it's technically perjury, because perjury is a tough charge to prove, there has to be statement and Barr, I thought, yesterday was very careful to try to distinguish on a very narrow basis his comments in Mueller's letter."
"Even if it's not technically perjury or some sort of a contempt," she added, "it really isn't the kind of behavior that we should seek from an attorney general. It was disingenuous, it was an effort to mislead. That's not the attorney general's job. He shouldn't be a political actor protecting the presidency. He's there to protect the country and uphold his oath to the Constitution."