Attorney General William Barr is generating a lot of heat for his handling of the Mueller report.
Following his press conference over the release of a redacted version of the special counsel report, during which the Attorney General appeared intent on emphasizing Trump’s “no collusion” line — mentioning it a staggering 16 times in 22 minutes — legal experts have slammed Barr for acting more in the interest of the president than the American people, according to Newsweek.
Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, went so far as to say that Barr was acting like a “defense lawyer” for Trump.
“I listened to the whole thing before reacting. Here’s some quick reactions: Barr sounded like a defense lawyer. Literally. Defense lawyers often say ‘the government didn’t prove’ to focus juries away from what prosecutors did show. That’s what Barr’s whole statement was,” Rocah tweeted shortly after Barr’s press conference.
At the press conference, Attorney General Barr was accompanied by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and Ed O’Callaghan, the acting principal associate deputy attorney general. Not surprisingly, a reporter asked Barr why he was not accompanied by the man who conducted the investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller. Barr responded by saying that Mueller had prepared the report for the Attorney General, and so it was up to him to make the report public.
But former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti took exception to this defense, saying that the special counsel’s report was not conducted for Barr but for the American people.
“Robert Mueller didn’t conduct that investigation for you, Mr. Barr. He conducted it for the American people. You’re supposed to work for us too. Start acting like it.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 19, 2019
Other prosecutors also blasted William Barr for assuming the same line of defense which has been put forward by Donald Trump’s legal team in the past. Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and legal analyst, said that the Attorney General was “parroting” the assertion that Trump had been exonerated on all charges, which was clearly not the case as the Mueller report pointed out. The special counsel listed 11 potential instances of obstruction of justice in his report but decided against practicing his prosecutorial judgment.
“Barr’s parroting of Trump’s talking point about ‘collusion’ does not instill confidence in his independence as the Attorney General for the people,” McQuade tweeted shortly after Barr’s press conference.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have maintained that they are not satisfied with Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, and have issued a subpoena for an unredacted version, as reported by The Guardian.