Democrats Ask State Bar Associations To Conduct ‘Professional Review’ Of Attorney General William Barr

U.S. Attorney General William Barr
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Democratic Representatives Kathleen Rice of New York and Ted Lieu of California have requested that the bar associations of Virginia and Washington, D.C., open a “professional review” of Attorney General William Barr, Law and Crime reports. The request was made in a joint letter to each association in response to Barr’s handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Critics of Barr have claimed that the attorney general has misrepresented the contents of Mueller’s report, and he is currently facing congressional scrutiny, including calls for impeachment, as a result.

“While it would be despicable enough if the Attorney General had thus mischaracterized the report, we now have evidence he appears to have lied to Congress twice about the extent of his knowledge of the Special Counsel’s reaction to Barr’s mischaracterization and support – or lack thereof – for his conclusions,” Rice and Lieu wrote in the letter.

In a tweet sharing the letter publicly, Rice claimed that the best case scenario is that Barr misled the public. The worse case scenario, she said, was that he actively perjured himself before Congress in his testimony about his own handling of the report.

In terms of the potential for perjury, Barr this week indicated under oath that he was not aware whether or not Mueller supported his conclusions as presented in a summary Barr produced of the report. Later, however, it became clear that previously Mueller had sent a letter to Barr, explicitly expressing concern about how the attorney general had characterized the findings in the report.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” said Mueller’s letter.

If pursued, this contradiction could amount to lying to Congress, a potentially impeachable offense for Barr.

Loading...

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, is threatening to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a congressional subpoena to appear before the Judiciary Committee. After previously agreeing to appear, after his rocky (and potentially perjury-inducing) Senate testimony, Barr indicated that he would not be appearing before the House committee after all.

In declining to appear, the attorney general said that he was concerned about how the hearing would be structured, specifically that staff attorneys could be asking questions instead of limiting questions to members of Congress present.