Democratic presidential candidates were quick to vent their frustration on Thursday at the conduct of Attorney General William Barr, swiftly called on special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before Congress and demanded that the full unredacted report be released to the public.
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The ire directed at Barr comes after he held a press conference defending President Donald Trump's actions and to speak publicly and take questions from journalists before the report from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election was released.
None of the sitting U.S. senators who have declared a presidential bid voted for Barr's confirmation.
On Twitter, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called Barr's presser a "complete farce," while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said it's "a disgrace to see an Attorney General acting as if he's the personal attorney and publicist for the President of the United States."
AG Barr’s press conference was a farce and an embarrassing display of propaganda on behalf of President Trump. Barr works for the people, not the president. They deserve to know Mueller’s full findings because nobody—especially not the president—is immune from accountability.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 18, 2019
It's a disgrace to see an Attorney General acting as if he's the personal attorney and publicist for the President of the United States.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 18, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on Twitter, "while we have more detail from today's report than before, Congress must continue its investigation into Trump's conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election."
It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation. While we have more detail from today's report than before, Congress must continue its investigation into Trump's conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 18, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Barr's presser was "full of spin and propaganda," and called on Mueller to testify before Congress, as did fellow committee member and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation's Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda.⁰ ⁰Americans deserve the unvarnished truth. We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 18, 2019
Attorney General Barr has made it clear he is not impartial when it comes to this investigation. Now that we have the report we should hear from Robert Mueller himself in public hearings. Our democracy demands it.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) April 18, 2019
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg, who has seen his presidential fortunes rise in recent weeks and officially launched his campaign last week, said Mueller's report "shows a president putting his own interests ahead of the country’s," and "demonstrates why we need to change the channel in 2020."
The Mueller report is a disturbing if not completely surprising collection of evidence that shows a president putting his own interests ahead of the country’s. Today again demonstrates why we need to change the channel in 2020.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 18, 2019
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who recently announced that he will run against Trump in the Republican presidential primary in 2020, also called on Mueller to testify publicly, writing in a statement, "It is essential that Special Counsel Bob Mueller come before Congress and address the validity of his report that has been redacted and released."
Statement from Bill Weld on the #MuellerReport: "Confidence in our leaders and in our institutions is at the heart of our democracy. That confidence has been shaken. (1/6)— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) April 18, 2019
"Release Mueller's full report now," Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted.
He also posted a searchable version of the special counsel's 448-page redacted report.
The American people deserve the truth.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 18, 2019
Not spin from a Trump appointee.
Release Mueller's full report now.
California Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopolous that Mueller's report makes clear that "the Russians attacked us," and that there is "a multiplicity of contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Swalwell also called on Barr to resign.
"I think you can be the attorney general of the United States, or the present's lawyer, but you can't be both," he told Stephanopolous.
Russia attacked us. The #MuellerReport details a multiplicity of contacts b/w Russia & @realDonaldTrump’s team and that Trump & his team "materially impaired" the investigation. Yet, OUR Attorney General acts as Trump’s defense attorney. He can’t represent both. Barr must resign.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) April 18, 2019
Rep.Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, also called on Mueller to testify publicly, while former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee expressed similar displeasure with Barr's actions.
We need to hear from Mueller directly. The American people deserve the full truth.— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) April 18, 2019
AG Barr should work to protect the interests of the people, not the President. It's clear from this morning's press conference where his allegiances lie. The American people deserve answers.— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) April 18, 2019
The Attorney General should be the nation’s top law enforcement officer - not a spokesman for the president. This press conference was a disgrace.— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) April 18, 2019
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel's campaign tweeted that they "won't be doing tweets about the mueller report because it's pointless."
we won't be doing tweets about the mueller report because it's pointless— Mike Gravel (@MikeGravel) April 18, 2019
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney said Mueller's report underscores the need for "a President free on conflicts, conducting themselves with honor and integrity, and possessing a moral compass that guides their actions."
The one conclusion that every American should reach from the Mueller report is that we are better than this. We deserve a President free on conflicts, conducting themselves with honor and integrity, and possessing a moral compass that guides their actions. We have to win in 2020.— John Delaney (@JohnDelaney) April 18, 2019
Democrats put spotlight on election security
Whatever the fallout from the Mueller report, the newly empowered Democratic majority in the House has sought to put the spotlight on election security, pushing a number of bills aimed at shoring up the country’s electoral infrastructure.
The party’s first sweeping piece of legislation addressing election security, H.R. 1 or the "For the People Act," was introduced in January with broad support within the Democratic caucus.
The ambitious bill, introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., largely focuses on anti-corruption and campaign finance-related issues and would also give $1.5 billion in new voting technology funding.
It also includes provisions to enable automatic voter registration, mandates that states use paper ballots in elections, better protect against cybersecurity threats and make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.
In February, the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., convened a series of panels on various security-related measures including H.R. 1, urging more support for local governments that bear the brunt of conducting and securing the country’s elections.
"Local election officials are on the front lines of securing our elections, and their success depends on the support they received from federal and state governments," Thompson said in his opening statement during the hearing.
Republicans on the committee said the provisions in H.R. 1 are too broad and that more funding is not the only solution to the problem.
"I hope that when H.R. 1 stalls in the Senate, which it will, we revisit the issue of election security in a bipartisan manner," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. said during the hearing.
In March, following the bill’s passage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "H.R. 1 ensures clean, fair elections and fights voter suppression. It cleans up corruption, returning integrity to Washington D.C. … It honors the vision of our founders, gives hope to the American people that their interests are served."
Despite its passage in the House, the bill stands little chance of passing the GOP-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decried the legislation as the "Democrat Politician Protection Act."
"I hope the two bodies can find common ground and build on the bipartisan successes of last Congress -- but this outlandish Democrat proposal is not a promising start. My colleagues and I will proudly defend your privacy and your elections," McConnell wrote in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this year.