Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) tore into Attorney General William Barr Wednesday afternoon, repeatedly impugning his motives and calling him a liar until Senator Graham finally broke in and put a stop to the abuse.
Reading from a script on her lap, she began her round of questioning on a highly contentious note: “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 reputations for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office,” Hirono intoned. She went on to accuse the attorney general of acting as President Trump’s personal lawyer, and siding with him “over the interests of the American people.”
“To start with, you never should never have been involved in supervising the Robert Mueller investigation,” she continued, hammering Barr for not forcing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself over conflicts of interest. Barr, of course didn’t become attorney general until February 14, of this year. Before then, the only ones who were arguing for Rosenstein to recuse himself were conservatives. Until the Mueller report was released, and Rosenstein supported Barr’s actions, Democrats did not have a problem with his oversight of the probe.
Hirono also accused the attorney general of trying to “clear Donald Trump before anyone had a chance to read the special counsel’s report and come to their own conclusions.”
“You put the power and authority of the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice behind a public relations effort to help Donald Trump protect himself,” she charged.
Finally, you lied to Congress. You told Rep. Charlie Crist that you didn’t know what objections Mueller’s team might have to your March 24th so-called summary. You told Sen. Chris Van Hollen that you didn’t know if Bob Mueller supported your conclusions. But you knew! You lied. And now, we know,” she declared.
Accusing the attorney general of a cover-up, Hirono said she and eleven of her Senate colleagues had called on the inspector general of the Justice Department to investigate his handling of the Mueller report.
“Being Attorney General of the United States is a sacred trust,” she intoned. “You have betrayed that trust. America deserves better. You should resign.”
Hirono asked Barr if the White House had exerted any influence on his decision of whether to allow Mueller to testify before Congress.
He answered flatly, “no.”
When asked if he thought it was okay for the president to fire then-FBI Director James Comey in the midst of an investigation, Barr replied, “I do think it’s okay …” But while he was still answering the question, Hirono rudely interrupted and asked if it was okay for the president to ask his White House Counsel to lie, referring to Don McGahn.
“I’m willing to talk about what’s criminal …” Barr began, before Hirono interrupted again to ask if he thought it was okay for the president to ask his White House Counsel to lie.
While Barr was in mid-answer, Hirono interrupted again to ask another question. “Do you think it’s okay for a president to offer pardons to people who don’t testify against him, to threaten the family of someone who does?”
When Barr expressed confusion as to what she was talking about, Hirono interrupted again, saying: I think you know what I’m talking about. Please Mr. Attorney General give us some credit for knowing what the hell is going on around here …”
Finally, Senator Graham broke in and put an end to the incivility, saying, “Not really!”
He added, “Listen, you slandered this man!”
“Mr. Chairman, I am done!” Hirono shot back. “Thank you very much.”
Graham responded by saying, “You slandered this man from top to bottom! If you want more of this, you’re not going to get it. If you want to ask some questions, you can.”
“You certainly have your opinion,” Hirono told the chair. “And I have mine.”