In questioning Attorney General William Barr over his analysis of the Mueller report on Wednesday, Senate Republicans deflected for him, proving their disregard for the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s lengthy investigation into U.S. election interference.
It started with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who opened the hearing by arguing that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ― not President Donald Trump ― had obstructed Mueller’s investigation by deleting personal emails on her private server in 2012. There’s no evidence that Clinton’s deleted emails would have been incriminating.
“What happened to her? Nothing,” Graham said.
Graham then admitted that he, the Senate Judiciary chair, hadn’t read the special counsel’s entire 400-page report, saying trusted Barr’s four-page analysis of it.
Barr’s summary is one of the reasons he was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about his handling of the Mueller report. The four-page letter Barr released has been widely criticized ― including by Mueller himself ― as misleading and overly exonerating of Trump.
Graham closed by saying that he wouldn’t make Mueller testify before the committee, saying, “It’s over.”
Other Republicans followed suit, what-abouting over Clinton and former President Barack Obama or wondering why there was a hearing in the first place.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Barr had gotten the “Kavanaugh treatment,” likening the attorney general’s obligation to testify to Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony about sexual assault allegations against him.
“You stepped forward and answered the call yet again,” Cruz said, “knowing full well that you would be subject to the kind of slanderous treatment, the Kavanaugh treatment, that we have seen of senators impugning your integrity, and I, for one, am grateful that you answered that call, and are leading the Department of Justice, both with integrity and fidelity to the law.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gave Barr a tired, softball line of questioning about an FBI agent’s anti-Trump text message and whether it calls the FBI’s motives into question.
“I think it gives reason to be concerned about those particular individuals who were involved, I don’t attribute it to the organization,” Barr responded.
Democrats, meanwhile, were calling for Barr’s resignation, declaring that he’d lied to Congress in the weeks since he summarized Mueller’s report and concluded that the president didn’t commit the crime of obstructing justice.