“We find ourselves, I think, for the first time with an attorney general who really is the president’s defense lawyer and spokesperson, and who’s quite good at it and has the veneer of respectability to camouflage what he’s doing,” the congressman said Tuesday, speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
Schiff said he was particularly concerned about Barr’s argument that President Donald Trump could have ended the special counsel investigation at any time ― which the congressman said put the president “truly above the law.”
Schiff also lamented that Barr is “willing to dissemble” and to lie, saying the way the attorney general is leading the Justice Department is “profoundly concerning for the country.”
He argued that Barr is more of a threat than Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who is known for his ham-fisted attempts to defend the president on national television. “He is not the sophist that Giuliani is,” Schiff said. “He’s much more dangerous.”
In a USA Today op-ed last month, the congressman called for Barr’s resignation, alleging that he had tried to mislead the country about the findings of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, especially with his initial four-page summary of that report. Moreover, Schiff wrote that Barr had effectively lied to Congress about whether he knew of Mueller’s reaction to that summary. (In fact, Mueller had told Barr in a letter shortly after the summary was released that it “did not fully capture” the report’s “context, nature, and substance.”)
Despite such criticism and demands for his resignation from a handful of other Democrats, including some 2020 presidential candidates, the attorney general brushed off concerns about his reputation in a “CBS This Morning” interview last week.
“I am at the end of my career,” Barr said. “Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that, you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries.”
On June 11, the House is set to vote on whether to hold the attorney general and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for their noncompliance with subpoenas related to the Mueller report.