Sen. Lindsey Graham met with Attorney General nominee William Barr on Wednesday and had nothing but glowing things to say.
About the wonderful relationship Barr enjoys with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that is.
Breitbart reports that Barr and Mueller are close friends. So close, in fact, that Mueller attended the weddings of Barr’s children. In addition, their wives attended Bible study together for years and are practically best friends.
Barr and Mueller also worked together during Barr’s tenure as Bush 41’s Attorney General from 1991 to 1993. Mueller led the DOJ’s criminal division at the time.
Graham, the incoming Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Barr gave “absolutely no indication he was going to tell Bob Mueller what to do or how to do it.”
Graham said he asked Barr the following questions:
‘Do you think Mr. Mueller is on a witch hunt?’ He said no. ‘Do you think he would be fair to the president and the country as a whole?’ He said yes. ‘And do you see any reason for Mr. Mueller’s investigation to be stopped?’ He said no. ‘Do you see any reason for a termination based on cause?’ He said no. ‘Are you committed to making sure Mr. Mueller can finish his job?’ ‘Yes.’
One of two things is happening here.
The first possibility is that Barr truly is a creature of the swamp and will actually prove to be no different than Jeff Sessions or Rod Rosenstein. If this is so, Trump has made a poor choice.
The other possibility, and I sincerely hope it turns out to be the case, and I suspect it will, is that Barr is trying to allay the fears and overcome the objections that Democratic senators will surely raise during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Democrats were especially disturbed when an eighteen page memo Barr had written to Rosenstein last June surfaced in December. Concerned that the Mueller team was building an obstruction of justice case against Trump because of his “motives” for doing so, Barr made the point that Trump’s motives for firing Comey, regardless of what they were, are irrelevant.
National Review’s Andy McCarthy appeared on the Fox Business Channel last week to explain.
If the public reports of Mueller’s theory of obstruction are true, then that obstruction theory is not viable under federal law because it’s an extravagant extension of it. What it would say is that instead of obstruction, which are things like tampering with witnesses, tampering with evidence, destroying evidence, things that are innately corrupt, evil acts taken to undermine a proceeding, Mueller’s theory would apply to any act of the President, even legitimate exercises of his constitutional prerogatives even if a prosecutor decides that they were politically motivated. And what Barr says, and I think he’s correct about this, is that is not a viable extension or expansion of the obstruction statute.
For obvious reasons, Barr’s “defense” of Trump has made Democrat’s apprehensive of his nomination and he may believe, that by publicly praising Mueller and emphasizing their close relationship, he will have an easier time moving through the Senate confirmation process.
Shortly after Trump nominated Barr, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said “We need answers as to why William Barr proactively drafted a memo against Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. There’s no reason for a lawyer in private practice to do this unless he was attempting to curry favor with President Trump.”
Unsurprisingly, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday, “I still believe, after the revelations about Mr. Barr’s unsolicited memo, President Trump ought to withdraw this nomination.”
Interestingly, although Barr met with Graham and Sen. Grassley (R-OH) on Wednesday, he reportedly refused to meet with any Democratic senators, citing the partial government shutdown as his excuse. Both Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) expressed their annoyance.
I tried (as did Blumenthal) to get meeting w/AG nominee Barr and was told he couldn’t meet until AFTER the hearing. The reason given? The shutdown. Yet shutdown didn’t stop him from other mtgs. This is a 1st for me w/any nominee as a member of judiciary. #Uncool #BadSign
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) January 10, 2019
After Blumenthal’s request for a meeting with Barr was rebuffed, he put out a statement. “William Barr’s refusal to meet with Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee is entirely unprecedented and unacceptable. The Department of Justice’s attempt to excuse this gross break in the norms by citing a ‘truncated schedule’ is galling when they are the ones who have rushed it. My Republican colleagues should share my outrage at this appalling violation of the Senate’s independent authority.”
Barr’s Senate hearing is set to begin next Tuesday and he is expected to easily win confirmation.