U.S. House of Representatives
I am utterly disgusted, but not surprised, by William Barr’s shameful performance [on the morning of April 18]. He was clearly acting for an audience of one: his puppet master, Donald Trump.
It should shock no one that Barr would use his office to hold a public relations event to further obscure the facts of Mueller’s report before the public and Congress had the opportunity to review it. Between his initial spin last month and today’s press conference, Barr has proven himself to be a very capable liar and fraud. Michael Cohen used to be known as Donald Trump’s fixer, but now it’s Bill Barr.
Barr today again misrepresented Mueller’s findings and manufactured conclusions that were not reflected in the full report. I never had any confidence in Barr, but two things are clear after his press conference: Mueller must testify before Congress and Barr must be cast out of government along with this president and his accomplices.
The fix was in when Barr was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Do not forget, Barr has a history of acting as a political figure, more so than an impartial law enforcement official, such as when he advised President George H.W. Bush to issue six pardons just weeks before the end of his presidency, which effectively killed the Iran Contra investigations.
Barr’s press conference was not a factual account about the essential questions that were raised by this investigation. This was a spin job by an attorney general acting as a sycophant to the president rather than carrying out his duties as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Barr even echoed Trump’s constant refrain of “no collusion,” and spoke sympathetically of the president’s frustration and anger about the investigation as if he is the president’s own attorney. This is despite the fact that, from the outset of the report, special counsel Mueller stated that he evaluated the president’s behavior “not under the rubric of collusion, but through the lens of conspiracy law.”
Simply put, Barr appears eager to excuse this president of his deeds regardless of what the facts may be. Barr is shielding him from transparency, insulating him from accountability, and protecting him from the consequences of his conduct. The report reveals that Barr has distorted the facts and lied for the president, which makes him complicit.
I am very troubled by what has already been revealed by the report. Despite Trump and Barr’s spin, here is what we know: Mueller achieved 34 indictments of individuals, three indictments of companies, and seven convictions. The indictments include the president’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, national security adviser Michael Flynn, foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, and trusted confidant Roger Stone.
The U.S. intelligence community confirmed Russians interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Vladimir Putin himself confirmed Trump was his candidate of choice during his comments alongside Trump in Helsinki. Trump himself told NBC’s Lester Holt he fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation.
According to Mueller’s report, when Trump learned about the appointment of the special counsel he said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f—–.”
Further, according to initial accounts, the Mueller report outlines 10 instances during which Trump may have obstructed justice but left it to Congress to follow up on those investigations and legal conclusions.
The special counsel’s report describes Trump’s repeated efforts to fire Mueller, remove former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and even tamper with witnesses by dangling pardons.
At this point, Congress’ failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms. Congress’ failure to impeach would set a dangerous precedent and imperil the nation as it would vest too much power in the executive branch and embolden future officeholders to further debase the U.S. presidency, if that’s even possible.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters is in her 15th term representing the 43rd Congressional District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives. She also serves as Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee and is a member of the Steering and Policy Committee.