Transcript for Breaking down AG Barr's testimony post-Mueller report and where we go from here
Oh. General Barr thank you just come. Let me start my just saying thank you you've had an extraordinarily successful legal career. You even have to take this job being attorney general of the United States as a sacred trust. Pena let me trade that trust America deserves better me. He should resign this whole thing it's this sort of mark independently bizarre because I'd make clear from the beginning. That I was putting out the report is much of the reporters like good and I for 1 am grateful. They you answered that call and are leading the Department of Justice. Both with integrity and fidelity. Lol welcome to a special bonus episode of the investigation on crisp Lester senior executive producer here at ABC news joining me here in the studio. Two senior members of our task force Johnson to cheat and map mosque but we have two special guest with a senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. And Capitol Hill correspondent. Mary Bruce who sitting outside this hearing room. So what a day it's been on Capitol Hill today and attorney general bill Barr has really truly been on the hot seat. And I say keep it was a letter that came out last night. Then exposed to a decade Democrats. Some ammunition to fire these bullets at him and what it what it basically calls and the question was. Two things one did bill Barr miss characterize. The mullah report when he first put up that four page letter and two. Was bill Barr as forthcoming and honest and even truthful. During his congressional hearing a couple weeks ago so now as I said we have Mary Bruce. And pure Thomas let's listen to one of the first testy exchanges of many. From senator pat Leahy describing the incident. Why did you testify and eight or nine that you didn't know the concerns being expressed demolished a we've actually heard those concerns dripping from mr. Mueller two weeks before. Well as I said. I talked directly to to Bob Mueller about his letter to me and and specifically asked them. What exactly are your concerns. Are you saying that the march 24 letter was misleading or inaccurate or watt. He indicated that it was not he was not saying that and that what he was concerned about my question most of our. You shouldn't have learned the filibuster rule moves even better than senators do the question was why did you say. You were not aware of concerns. When weeks before your tests that mr. Moore. Expressed concern seemed to have to fairly simple. Well I answered a question. And the question was relating to. Unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy. Relating to findings. I don't know what that refers to at all I talked directly to Bob Mahler not members of his team. In hand even though right did not know what was being referred to. And had and and and Mueller had never told me that that might it that the expression of the findings was inaccurate. But I did then volunteer. That I thought they were talking about the desire to have more information put out but it wasn't my purpose to put out more from. You know listen when I heard that Mary it reminded me you know I talked about my Clinton days a lot but are reminded me of another. Person who was very good or Parse things. Language can we go back and listen to. A very famous person who's excellent parson language and fastball from me in the words it is. Very what do you think. Do you have a ready at the ready a button these pusher Clinton button I do is occurring in town yesterday wakes me up in the morning. And tearing down but seriously can't bring it reminded me of those days bat at. There's a lot to unpack your personal bad that's Democrat Democrats are Evan very quick to point out looked a bit bill Barr yes he is a lawyer and he seems to be doing some very. Careful. Lawyerly parsing of the words here when you look at the big picture write this letter that bed came out. That we learned of overnight. Bill Mueller letter in which he essentially complained to the attorney general about the way that he was summarizing his report that was a bombshell here for Democrats because they look. At this letter and they say that it underscores their concerns about the attorney general since it reinforces. They're criticisms and accusations that that they feel that the attorney general has been essentially acting. At the president's behest that he's been doing Donald Trump's bidding and trying to. Create a narrative here about the report. They that would benefit to the president because of course while Muller found no determination on the question of obstruction of justice bill Barr did and so that the president did not. Obstruct justice what you hear in this exchange with the with Leahy and bar and why it's so interesting is that Iggy gets at the question of whether bar has been misleading. Congress when he answered questions in his previous testimony when he told lawmakers that he didn't know whether Mahler supported his conclusions when he didn't. You know real iron when he when he testified about at the time was reporting that members of Mueller Sheen were frustrated. With the way that bark had put out that four page summary. And bar you know essentially suggest that he wasn't aware of any of those concerns will now based on this letter Democrats say that was misleading they feel that they'll bark was deliberately misleading that he was deceptive. In the way that he explained this to congress and it's why your now. Seen so much anger and frustration from Democrats that's leading to many Democrats and what it's never dub archer accused himself for to resign. Flat out evil one Democrat who saying he should be impeached on the during that far. But it it's it's upped the ante here when it comes to the concerns that Democrats have about the attorney general. Give appear isn't so bill Barr the bottom line with go bark is he ended up putting the whole report out. Isn't isn't that isn't that his slick shields saying guys what's the problem here I EU you have read the 440 pages now. At the end of the day that's who aren't the people around him are saying is that he's released an overwhelming majority. Of the Mueller investigation. And his findings. The bottom line here is that here's what's unusual. Number one. That several days after room. Bob Barr released this march 24. What he called. The summation of conclusion the bottom line conclusions as he calls them. Them or teen was not happy. And they felt that. He needed to put up more information. Now. Barr says that he pick the phone and called Muller. And Mueller expressed his concerns he went on his way according to Bart to say you were not in Akron nor U misleading. But they clearly want it more information out. That's item one item two here. Is that. Bart is today in some ways paying a price because he did not tell. Congress in an initial hearing. About this. A letter from Mueller and about this exchange. He believes that. This is not indicative. Of a real. Bit of strife between the two men. But it's it's you know a situation now where he's dealing with it and I think -- struck most by today's hearing is that he's sitting there calmly. He feels very confident that he's made principled decisions. And while the Democrats are suggesting that he you know is basically. The president's attorney and not acting as the chief law enforcement officer. He he seems non pressed PC was easy seems like he really doesn't care about. But those descriptions now we'll have to see what he does if they termed a heat and try to hold in contempt of something like that. But that hasn't hit bottom wanted to go back to the beginning of your question. Is that look we put out the report. Right I was too what I was trying to do is I got a report delivered to me. And I looked at the report I said you know it's gonna take a few weeks to get this fool. Our report or most of it out. I felt like because of the public hue and cry for some information I was gonna put out something I guess what I did it but here's. The problem politically with fat and from from democrats' point of view. Is that why all you will have bar and those who support farming Republicans will still looking ultimately put the whole thing out right. And and you even have Mueller saying bid that in in this letter that it you know none none none of these. Summaries that he put out word or inaccurate or misleading it's a timing issue. Because what Democrats will point out is the guess you put up a full report. But could build are essentially got a head start that he got out there and framed the narrative and that that was a narrative that was beneficial to the president and it was an heir to that the president. Took and went running what they they've been aired that allowed the president to be tweeting you know even again just a few hours ago no collision no obstruction full eggs on a ration. And end the president's critics will save you. But that was did the narrative that was allowed to be bait early on based on. That four page summary that 44 page letter. Did bill Barr put out or eating though he ultimately you know did put out much more to some you know the full report on the board acted report bright and low load. Securities gears a little bit here because this is obviously be a long gave for bill borrow it as Chris was saying a source C. How it some moments now lease or reading a little more tense is the question is going on and on and on but. One area they did explore when the senators were asking questions is that. What were his thoughts about certain individuals testify if asked that Don again he was asked about Bob Mahler here's ready set to. You have any objections could you think about objections of white done again shouldn't come testified before this committee about his experience. Yes I mean I think that he's that he GQ he's eighty close advisor to the president never heard president never exerted executive privilege excuse me may have -- waves now we haven't waived executive privilege well at this point that you believe you're saying done what about Bob Mueller should he be allowed to testify before this I've already said publicly I have no objection to him down again should he be allowed to testify. I did in order to call for the president to make. Well as part citizens responsible well are you SUNY. So Mary let's get a reality check here from the hill what do you members of congress want they want Bob Mueller they won Don Meehan also write yet and other economic and get but they particularly want -- especially after this new revelations about this letter they say look that their bars. Bigger questioning. Bar so much and questioning his separation from the president so much that they say that they have to hear. From bargains are seat they say they have to hear from Mueller himself. As soon as possible. They've made these requests are ready they've reached out to Mueller asking him to testify before the end of the month to separate committees have. And they're still waiting to hear back from it and I've asked several Democrats today you know what's the hold up why do you think. You haven't heard back. From Mueller and you get some very interesting responses you know there's a lot of sort of I about eyebrow raising bag when one senator just let me point blank into that's a very good question I wish I had an answer. They're some concern that the Justice Department is holding him back. What's interesting is that ultimately you know mullis going to be a private citizen sometime in the near future. And once he is did justice heart won't be able to prevent him from coming up here and of course they could always subpoena him if they need to. But there are some Democrats appear to feel there's some some long gone on here. But appear bill Barr kind of and book Bob Mueller billboard been friends for almost thirty years but today bill Barr kind of criticize Bob Mueller and said hey. He should have made a determination. About the obstruction question that's why I had to make the determination. How do you think Bob Muller's from the take. You know his hadn't spoken publicly in two years he he might not like it the tumor and have. This is fast thing to me dealt with each other. EO very delicately. In those in recent weeks where it was fasting to me that for example. Barr said today he doesn't know why. Mueller did not make that prosecutorial judgment one way of the other. Well he could ask him and he can press them on it but apparently they've not done that. The so. I think one of the issues with the story today Chris is this. Nothing that's been said today at that hearing so far one we of the other. Is probably going to change some minds of anyone who is. Do you against the president or anyone who is you know. For the democratic you know point of view for anyone who thinks this is bill what you. And that's part of the issue and you hit on an earlier that ultimately the reports come out. Most of it pass. And what you have is. It just more information about whether there's been tension between. Muller and bar. And I just I think that that's part of the maddening part about the story to you you never get any definitive answer about anything. Hasn't this expose Pierre a little bit the the flaw in the special counsel system in that it really. While it's viewed publicly that Mueller was independent. That he was able to proceed on this investigation as he saw fit. At the end of the day he works for bill bar ranked. Right in the attorney general when others way to today to make that point he said essentially think of Bob Mueller as a US attorney. His job was to do an investigation. And follow. You file a report and he works for me Barr said ray he works for me and and there was a quote that he was almost funny he said. It was my baby. You know at that point he said after Mueller filed his report quote it was my baby. In other words the final call rests with him. He expressed surprise that Mueller would make this. Prosecutorial judgment and he made the boy and Chris and it it was sort of a a jab when he said look destined job. Do the investigation and make the call. I'm married. What about Republicans today but what or who would have they scored any points what are there and they seem to be talking about the struck. FBI agents the corrupt FBI agents but it's it doesn't seem like. There I don't understand their defense is their one. Well what's interesting is that this has become for Democrats as has become so much of a hearing about bar not necessarily about trump and you're hearing from Republicans remember this is a committee that is chaired by Lindsey Graham one of the president's top allies. On the hill you're hearing damn focus so much. On their calls for this investigation into the investigation the origins. Of the Mahler investigation and the Russia probe they wanna go wobbly back and look at that and what they claim was bias against the president I've heard the name Hillary Clinton more today than I expected. From Republican and although I guess I should should come as no surprise but they say that's what the attention should be focused on. I'm the one thing redemption of both sides agree on and it's an important point to Ted to remember here is when you look at the big picture. Here's election coming up. And I'm not saying that start my politics I'm senate's talk about about security. There's a big focus from both sides of the Abbott how to protect this democracy going forward. Giving the fact bid that there are deep concerns about ongoing. Russian meddling in what lessons can be learned from from from the conclusions of this report and how to prevent that from happening again and I'm just does congress feel compelled them I mean did you get a sense that they feel compelled know that they're gonna have to do something tangible to address that. They are the question is can they come together to do that you heard Lindsey Graham and his opening remarks stadium he hopes that the committee can work in a bipartisan. Way going forward to trying to address some of these concerns and never once has added a vested interest and that's it's just a matter of what that looks like. Well marriage Fargo backed what you're talking though Lindsey Graham and really the person they're playing. Defense for the White House seemingly you soaring that opening exchange right ahead of the gate arm with the attorney general the questions that Graham was asking him. You know basically getting him to agree to with the fact that. The investigation was done the right way take a listen to us you thank you theater. Thorough job. Yes and I think he feels he did a thorough job and hand and had adequate. Evidence to make the calls do you think the president's campaign in 2016. Was thoroughly looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the Russians. Yes. In the answer is no according to Bob Mueller that's right. He couldn't decide about obstruction do you did is that correct that's right you feel good about your decision absolutely. Thank you very much. So Mary that these innocent enough going to be the end around one in the senate we start round two in the house I mean what how is that can look different people. They're gonna tune in the furthest friends obviously during antlers committee it's run by Democrats. Do we expect more fire and fury due respects to be little calmer what would your ass mental what that I was gonna look different is that bill Barr may not be there. Right now it is still unclear if those hearings actually gonna go on tomorrow and any comes onto a fight over format and both sides are still digging in. The democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee. Says that in addition to having members of the committee asked questions they want to have staff attorneys also do ago around. To be able to ask from both sides Democrats Republicans be able to ask questions the attorney general Barr says if that's the way it's gonna go he's not coming. And Nadler is holding firm saying wild you know this is an up for negotiation. There is some precedent for that it is rare to have staff attorneys ask questions but not unprecedented. Other Republicans say that's just gonna make the whole thing into a complete sideshow so we don't know what's gonna happen to data puzzled my they'll be hearing in an empty chair. So it will look very different into the to get back to your question and the point about that that what Graham was saying there that is chairman Graham and Republicans trying to turn the page. Saying look then investigation was done it was thorough. You know smaller did his job bar has done his job it's time to move ought. And that's we're gonna continue to hear from Republicans over and over. Arendt lost word here and there's some of the senators have gone I'm that they've gone as far as calling him a liar they called him a lap dog for the president. And talking about that he should resign do you think bill Barr is regretting taking this job is attorney general I mean. He was the state attorney general 25 years ago and had an impeccable reputation and now now look at it. Well. I haven't. And chose to take a job in the if you read Carl his confirmation hearing. One of those things he's said over and over again is that he's been in his career long enough. Where he could do this job and take the fire from all sides if necessary. And do what he felt like he thought was right. And from that standpoint he's very calm about it I can tell you about that and he seems to be. Taken the approach that. I'm doing what I'm doing. I'll make the calls I need to make. And I live with the results from Karen well that's a perfect way of ending our special bonus episode covering the attorney general's testimony on Capitol Hill and please be sure to hit subscribe and leave us a rating and remember a few episodes from every Tuesday. Thanks to our producers Trevor Hastings and leveraged all speak Caitlin Palmer. And we'll see you back here next week for another episode of the investigation.
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