‘Sir, the flip—flop in this case, I think, is that you’re not answering the question directly…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Although “collusion” was supposed to be the main topic during Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr, it was “confusion” that seemed to overcome Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Harris, a 2020 presidential hopeful, has previously expressed befuddlement over whether she approved of Jussie Smollett‘s hate-crime hoax and whether she would allow incarcerated felons to vote in elections.
At the hearing, she seemed shell-shocked once again upon learning that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller investigation for nearly two years (prior to his resignation this week), was involved in the prosecutorial decisions after the report’s submission.
During Harris’s often peevish seven-minute interrogation of Barr, she grilled the recently appointed attorney general by demanding to know if he was aware of whether Rosenstein—the man he took over the Mueller investigation from—had consulted with a DOJ ethics panel before becoming involved.
“I think they cleared it when he took over the investigation,” Barr said, noting that Rosenstein was approved by the Senate 96–4 following a specific discussion that he would lead the Russia investigation when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
Harris said Rosenstein had a conflict of interest since he was also a key witness over the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump axed the disgraced Comey in May 2017 at Rosenstein’s recommendation, amid questions over whether the FBI was conducting an investigation into the now debunked claims of Russian conspiracy.
“[Rosenstein] wouldn’t be participating if there was a conflict of interest,” Barr said.
“This seems to be a bit of a flip–flop,” Barr added, “because when the president’s supporters were challenging Rosenstein—”
Harris interrupted: “Sir, the flip–flop in this case, I think, is that you’re not answering the question directly.”
Harris, a former San Francisco prosecutor, also claimed—without citing evidence—that Barr had a conflict of interest, making it unclear who would have been a satisfactory decision-maker in her mind.
“I think the American public has seen quite well that you are biased in this situation and you have not been objective,” she said after Barr asked what the basis would be for him to consult an ethics panel over ongoing investigations.
Political Theater of the Absurd
While more reasonable members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa—sought to explore ways Congress and the Justice Department could collaborate on preventing future Russian interference in elections, many of the the committee’s leftist radicals engaged in political theater, launching a full fledged assault on Barr’s credibility.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, another presidential hopeful, bemoaned that partisanship had allegedly seeped into the investigation.
“We’re at a very sobering moment in American history,” Booker said. “… I fear that we’re descending into a new normal that is dangerous for our democracy on a number of levels.”
“A lot of respected nonpartisan experts and legal officials were surprised by your efforts to protect the president,” Hirono said, “but I wasn’t surprised. You did exactly what I thought you’d do. That’s why I voted against your confirmation—I expected you would try to protect the president, and indeed you did.”
Hirono—who attempted to make a name for herself with her bombastic, profanity-laced, misandrist attacks during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—demanded Barr’s resignation.
However, her tirade was cut off by committee chairman Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who criticized her for slandering Barr.
Like Harris, Blumenthal—a leading Senate voice in impeachment calls and attempts to sue the president for his tax returns—called on Barr recuse himself from other investigations into the president.
“You’ve been very adroit and agile in your responses to questions here,” Blumenthal said, “but I think history will judge you harshly, and maybe a bit unfairly, because you seem to have been the designated fall guy for this report.”
As the Democrats griped that the Justice Department had overlooked Trump’s alleged moral shortcomings when assessing the Mueller Report, Barr tried to represent the written rule of law and best practices that he used to form the basis of his decisions.
“I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,” he said. “I’m in the business of determining whether a crime has been committed.”
The attorney general, though mostly unflappable, was at times was clearly perplexed by the partisan grandstanding and outlandish accusations.
“This whole thing is sort of mind-bendingly bizarre,” he said in response to a question from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., about the Democrats’ charges that he sought to forestall the report and mislead about its conclusions while making legally mandated redactions.
“I made clear from the beginning that I was putting out the report—as much of the report as I could—and it was clear that it was gonna take three weeks or so, maybe four, to do that,” Barr said.
Many of the complaints the Democrats raised were rendered moot by the report’s sparingly redacted, full public release in April—although they continued to press their narrative of malfeasance.
It is likely that the Democrats are seeking to justify, in the public eye, their continuing push for further House-led investigations into the accusations against Trump, which would, no doubt, extend through next year’s election season.
But Barr criticized the move and put the ball in the partisan leftists’ court to recalibrate their own “normalcy”—by accepting the legal conclusions of the Mueller Report and moving on rather than engaging in crass political games.
“The report is now in the hands of the American people,” he said. “Everyone can decide for themselves—there’s an election in 18 months. That’s a very democratic process, but we’re out of it, and we have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon.”