New York: US Attorney-General William Barr is facing calls to resign for orchestrating a "public relations effort" to minimise the political damage of the Mueller report to President Donald Trump and providing misleading answers to Congress.
On Tuesday, local time, it was revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller had written to Barr objecting to the way he had summarised his report into Russian election interference in an initial four-page memo released to the public in March.
Attorney-General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.Credit:AP
Democratic politicians peppered Barr with hostile questions at Senate hearings on Wednesday about his handling of the release of the Mueller report and his past answers at congressional hearings.
"Mr Barr now the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani, or Kellyanne Conway, or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office," Mazie Hirono, Democratic Senator from Hawaii, told Barr.
"You put the power and authority of the office of Attorney-General and the Department of Justice behind a public relations effort to help Donald Trump protect himself."
Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker (left) and Senator Kamala Harris (right) peppered Barr with hostile questions.Credit:AP
Hirono said Barr had used selective fragments from Mueller's report in his initial summary to give a misleading impression that Trump had been cleared of wrongdoing.
"You should resign," she said.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee, said to Hirono: "You slandered this man to top to bottom."
Hirono and other Democrats also accused Barr of misleading Congress about his interactions with Mueller following the released of the summary.
At a congressional hearing in early April, Barr was asked whether he knew of complaints from members of Mueller’s team that more of their report should be made public immediately.
"No, I don’t," Barr said at the time.
But in a letter to Barr on March 27, three days after the release of Barr’s memo, Mueller himself said the summary "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions".
"There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation," he wrote. "This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."
- Read the full letter from Robert Mueller here
Mueller urged Barr to release the executive summaries contained in his report to provide more information to the public, a request Barr denied.
Mueller sought to have Barr release more details from his report than Barr originally did.Credit:AP
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told Barr: "I think history will judge you harshly and maybe a bit unfairly because you have been the designated fall guy for this report. I think that conclusion is inescapable."
Barr defended his handling of the report, saying his four-page summary was only intended to communicate Mueller's prosecutorial decisions and not to summarise the tenor of the entire report.
Barr said Mueller's "work concluded when he sent his report to the Attorney-General. At that point it was my baby and I was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public".
He denied misleading Congress because he was answering specific questions posed to him by politicians at the time.
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