WATCH: AG Bill Barr Testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee

Live updates: William Barr will not testify Thursday about the Mueller investigation

U.S. Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday about the release of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

>> Mueller report: Read William Barr's opening statement ahead of his Senate testimony

Barr was questioned on several topics during the four-hour hearing, but a majority of questions focused on a letter sent to Barr from Mueller in late March voicing frustration with the rollout of the findings of the report. 

>> Read: Special counsel Mueller's letter to Attorney General Barr

The letter said Mueller thought the summary Barr gave on March 24 lacked context that ultimately clouded the understanding of the investigation’s findings.

>> Jamie Dupree: Barr defends handling of Mueller report, no charges against Trump

Live updates  

Scheduling update for May 2

5:45 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Various media outlets are reporting that AG Barr will not testify tomorrow (May 2.) 

The House Judiciary Committee will still hold a hearing Thursday at 9 a.m. without the Attorney General.

There may have been notes, but you can’t have them

3:12 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Blumenthal says he doesn’t see where Mueller complained about the media in the letter he sent Barr. Barr says he wondered why Mueller sent a letter and called the letter “snitty.” “The letter is a bit snitty, and I think it was probably written by a member of his staff.”
The two talked by phone the next day, Barr said. Blumenthal asks if Barr took notes on the call. Barr said some notes were taken. Blumenthal asks for the notes and Barr says, “No. Why should you have them.” After a thank you from Sen. Lee, the hearing is adjourned.

He’s not sure if Trump’s taxes were looked at

3 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr says he does not know whether Mueller reviewed Trump’s tax returns and financial statements.

Individual One makes an appearance

2:50 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Leahy asks Barr if the special counsel referred the hush money case where Trump is named as “Individual One” to the prosecutors in New York. 

‘They ain’t got nothin’’

2:45 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, thanks Barr for the service he agreed to knowing he would be treated the way he has been in the hearing by Democrats. He says that Democrats’ continued referral to the letter from Mueller to Barr is telling. “If this is their whole argument, they ain’t got nothin’.”Cruz wants to know if the Justice Department could investigate whether the Obama Administration spied on political rivals. 

It’s the FBI leaks that brought us here

2:40 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Utah, asks about the FBI and whether its agents are bias and leak information. Barr says it happens, and neither is good. He said he is investigation leaks from the FBI. Crapo asks when did the FBI know that the Democrats paid for the investigation that led to the Steele report. Barr said he is not sure.

Did you examine the evidence?

2:35 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, goes in on Barr on the practices used in preparing the report to be released. First, though, she asks “Has the president or anyone at the White house every asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone? He says he doesn’t know, “I’m grappling with the word “suggested,” Barr says. 

The Harris asks if he examined the underlying evidence upon which the report is based. “We accepted the report as accurate,” Barr said. “You did not look at the evidence that underlines and supports the conclusions of the report, yet you represented to the American public that there was no evidence to make a charging decision.”

Should Americans be grateful?

2:18 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, says he feels Barr is not sounding the alarm about Russian interference or the president’s behavior loudly enough. Booker says Barr’s statements about the report seems to be normalizing bad behavior by the Trump campaign. Booker questions Barr’s claim that Americans should be grateful that Trump’s campaign was not helped by the Russians or that Trump “lied and tried to hide it.”

Hirono calls Trump ‘grifter and a liar;’ attacks Barr
2:01 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, calls Trump a “grifter and liar” and goes on to say, “you should have never been involved with supervising the Mueller investigation… you should have required Rod Rosenstein to resign … you delayed the release for two weeks … you substituted your own judgment for the special counsel’s legal judgment… your version of the events was false ... taking statements out of context and ignoring the rest. “Finally, you lied to Congress.” You did exactly what I decided to do. That’s why I voted against your confirmation.” She says she and other senators have called for an investigation into his actions as attorney general.
Chairman Graham tells Hirono she has no more time and that she has spent seven minutes “slandering this man.”

Barr says he doesn’t recall talking with the president

1:47 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, asks Barr if he discussed the report with the White House. Barr says several times he cannot recall any “substantive discussion” with anyone at the White House about the report. Blumenthal pushes him and he continues to say he does not remember doing that. Blumenthal asks if Trump lied to the American people. “I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people. I’m in the business of determining whether a crime was committed,” Barr said.

Coons asks about campaign rules

1:32 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, asks if a foreign intelligence service contacts a campaign, should that campaign report it. Barr says yes. Coon says that’s exactly what happened with the Trump campaign. Coon says the Senate needs to take a look at what Barr is overseeing considering how he handled the Mueller report.

Hawley says the FBI is the reason we are here

1:38 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, asks if Barr is looking into the FBI investigation into Trump and his campaign. He asks Barr about the 25th amendment and whether he has ever question Trump’s physical fitness to hold the office. He Hawley suggests that members of the FBI tried to overturn the 2016 election.

Warren calls for Barr’s resignation

Coons asks about campaign rules

1:32 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, asks if a foreign intelligence service contacts a campaign, should that campaign report it. Barr says yes. Coon says that’s exactly what happened with the Trump campaign. Coon says the Senate needs to take a look at what Barr is overseeing considering how he handled the Mueller report.

Bottom-feeding, scum sucker

1:24 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, describes a Russian oligarch as a “bottom-feeding, scum sucker” in a question about what is legal and illegal as it comes to dealing with what a candidate can accept from a foreign country. He asks if political campaign workers can be paid by a foreign government to work as a spy/disrupter for an opposition campaign. He asks if the Democratic campaign for president in 2020 or Trump’s campaign can use material hacked by such people. Barr says there are a lot of factors that would go into the answer to that question, but says people in campaigns and in government need to be educated on this matter. Sasse references a “bar and a hooker” as the old-school way of getting a campaign worker in trouble.

Klobuchar looks for help from Barr

1:10 p.m. May 1, 2019: Sen. Amy Klobuchar asks Barr if he would work on several bills that would help strengthen election security measures. It is legislation Klobuchar is sponsoring. She asks Barr if he thinks Trump's comments about Michael Cohen’s family committing crimes was an attempt to obstruct justice. Barr says he does not see that as obstruction. She asks about other incidents when people were seemingly offered protection for making statements that benefited Trump were examples of obstruction.

Kennedy questions Barr

1:05 p.m. May 1, 2019: Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, asks Barr if the Mueller team has changed its mind on what was included in the investigation report. Barr said no. Kennedy asks what Mueller wanted him to do about what he perceived as negative press coverage of the March 24 letter Barr sent to Congress. Barr said Mueller wanted more of the report released. Barr said he was not interested in putting more of the report out at that time. Kennedy asks if that decision was Barr’s to make. He said it was. Kennedy suggests that the president release every document turned over to Mueller for the investigation.

The hearing has resumed

12:57 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: The hearing has resumed. Barr is clarifying an answer he gave earlier.

A ‘halftime report’ to Barr’s testimony

12:40 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Here’s a look at some highlights from today’s testimony.

Meanwhile, in the House

12:35 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: The House Judiciary Committee has voted to allow an additional hour of questioning at the hearing with Barr that is scheduled for Thursday. Barr has said he will not answer questions from House staff attorneys, only from members of the House committee. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says he is considering subpoenaing Barr if he doesn’t show tomorrow.

An hour break

12:01 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Chairman Graham has recessed the hearing for one hour. 

Whitehouse accuses Barr of "masterful hairsplitting" 
11:52 p.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Whitehouse asks Barr about Mueller's letter and why the letter was not made public earlier. Here's that exchange:
Whitehouse: "You knew that the Mueller letter was going to become public and that was probably yesterday? 
Barr: "I think so."
Whitehouse: "OK. When did you decide to make that letter available to us in Congress?" 
Barr: "This morning."
Whitehouse: "Would you concede you had an opportunity to make this letter public on April 4, when representative [Charlie] Crist asked you a very related question?"
Barr: "I don't know what you mean by related question. To me, it seemed to be a very different question."
Whitehouse: "I can't even follow that down the road. That's masterful hairsplitting."

‘Spying is a good English word’

11:50 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr has another contentious exchange with a Democratic senator. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, asked Barr about using the word “spying” in a recent House hearing.
“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word spying,” Barr said. “I don’t think the word spying has any pejorative connotation at all.”
“Spying is a good English word that in fact doesn’t have synonyms, saying it encompasses “all forms of covert intelligence collection," Barr said.
“I use it frequently,” he added.
Whitehouse argued that the term “spying” is not typically used by the Justice Department to refer to surveillance that has been authorized. “It’s commonly used by me,” Barr said.

What about testimony from McGahn?

11:45 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, get a bit testy with each other over executive privilege. Barr told Durbin that whether former White House counsel Don McGahn would testify before a Senate committee would be up to President Trump.

Durbin said, “Don McGahn, should he be allowed to testify?” Barr answered, “That's a call for the President to make.” Durbin countered, “Well he's a private citizen at this point.”

“I assume he would be testifying about privileged matters,” Barr answered.

The “Steele dossier” comes up

11:30 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Under questioning by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Barr said he is reviewing where the “Steele dossier” as part of his investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. Barr was asked if he could state that the dossier was not part of the Russian influence campaign. “No, I can’t state that with confidence and that is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative,” Barr said.

Leahy says he believes Barr mislead the Congress

11:15 a.m. May 1, 2019: Sen. Patrick Leahy questions Barr about his House testimony last month when he testified that he did not know about any concerns special counsel Robert Mueller had about the summary of the report. Barr, when asked by Leahy about media reports that members of Mueller’s team were not happy with his summary of the investigation report, said he did not “know what that refers to at all. I talked directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his team.”

Leahy said he believes that Barr was trying to mislead the Congress. 

Mueller should have made “prosecutive decision”

11:07 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr said he was "not really sure" of Mueller's reasoning for not making a decision about obstruction when asked by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as to why Mueller didn’t make a call on obstruction of justice.

Barr said he “didn't try to put words in his mouth." 

"I think that if he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he shouldn't have investigated," Barr said.

Feinstein questions Barr on obstruction issue 

11 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Feinstein questioned Barr about Trump’s request of White House counsel Don McGahn to have Mueller removed as special counsel and then told McGahn to deny it.

Barr said that act does not equal obstruction of justice because of the distinction between ordering Mueller’s firing and ordering him to be removed for something like a conflict of interest. 

Mueller would have been replaced by another special counsel, Barr argued, the investigation would not have ended.

Barr says Mueller had a chance to look at the summary before it was released

10:40 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr says he “offered Bob Mueller the opportunity to read the letter. He declined.” He said he spoke with Mueller by phone from his home, he said. He said Mueller was concerned about how the press was reporting on the results of the investigation. Barr says Mueller “was not suggesting we had misrepresented his report.”

Graham asks Barr is there was a specific item that was redacted that Mueller objected to. Barr said not really, that there was some conversation on items that would hurt someone’s reputation.

Were you surprised that Mueller did not make a decision on the obstruction of justice issues, Graham asks. It was confusing to him, Barr says. Graham asks if Barr consulted with Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general. Barr said yes he did.

Barr explains steps he took with redacting the report 

10:39 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr explains in his opening statement “We made every effort to ensure that the redactions were as limited as possible. According to one analysis, just 10 percent of the public report was redacted. And my understanding is that less than two percent has been withheld in the minimally redacted version made available to Congressional leaders. 

“While the Deputy Attorney General and I selected the categories of redactions, the redactions themselves were made by Department of Justice attorneys working closely with attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office. These lawyers consulted with the prosecutors handling ongoing matters and with members of the intelligence community whoreviewed selected portions of the report to advise on redactions. The Deputy Attorney General and I did not overrule any of the redaction decisions, nor did we request that any additional material be redacted.”

Barr is testifying now

10:30 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: William Barr has begun his testimony. He is talking about how the report was prepared to be released to the public.

Feinstein’s turn to give an opening statement 

10:25 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, is talking about the Mueller letter and is wondering why Barr did not mention that letter when he was asked if Mueller had any response to Barr’s March 24 summary of the investigation during a House hearing last month. 

She is also referencing items in Mueller’s report, such as Trump calling for WikiLeaks to release “missing emails” from Clinton. She is reading some of the incidences of possible obstruction from Mueller’s report.

Graham talks Mueller, Clinton, the FBI and the f word

10:15 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Mr. Mueller was “the right guy” to do the investigation, Lindsey Graham says. Graham repeats that there was no finding of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. He says Mueller left to Barr the decision on obstruction, and no intent to obstruct was found. “The president never did anything to stop Muller from doing his job.”
Graham brings up Hillary Clinton’s campaign and slams the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server. Graham reads emails sent between FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. He reads one that has the f word in it. He promises to investigate how the Russia investigation started. He says the Mueller investigation is over.

Graham begins the hearing

10:05 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: The hearing has begun. 

Here is Mueller’s letter to Barr

Mueller letter is released 

9:55 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: The Department of Justice has sent House Judiciary Chairman Nadler the letter Mueller sent to Barr, according to CNN. You can read the letter here.

No agreement yet

9:50 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr has not yet agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Barr had said he would appear before the committee but then balked when committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, announced last week that House staff attorneys would question Barr in addition to committee members.

Trump weighs in

9:35 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: President Donald Trump has tweeted in advance of the hearing today.

Testimony begins in 30 minutes

9:30 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Barr is set to begin testifying in 30 minutes, at 10 a.m. ET. He will be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee whose chairman is Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, is the ranking member of the committee. 

Democrats suggest Barr wasn’t telling the truth

9:19 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen tweeted ahead of Barr’s appearance today that Barr did not tell the truth during his testimony before Congress last month when Hollen asked him if Mueller supported his conclusion about the report.

Mueller’s letter

9 a.m. ET May 1, 2019: As Attorney General William Barr gets ready to face members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the conversation has turned to a letter written by Robert Mueller expressing dissatisfaction with Barr's summary of Mueller’s work. In the March 24 letter Barr sent to Congress, he said Mueller’s investigation concluded there was no collusion with Russia on the 2016 presidential election, and said Mueller had not issued a determination on whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice. Mueller complained to Barr, according to a story in The Washington Post, that the letter lack context. 

Attorney General William Barr speaks about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. 
Photo: (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X