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Attorney General Bill Barr lied to Congress? If you have any liberal friends, they’ve already started repeating this talking point. It’s nonsense.
When I first read the editorials carping on the attorney general’s March 24, 2019 summary of the Mueller report, I failed to recognize the coordinated assault being launched to punish Barr for . . . well, let’s be honest, speaking truth to the leftist juggernaut that pushed the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. After all, why are we arguing over a summary of a report that’s now available to the public?
Nope, this thin gruel is the Left’s chosen weapon to stop Barr from holding the conspirators to account.
“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said with a New York Times megaphone to her lips. “That’s a crime.”
More hysterical repetition of this charge may be read in Mother Jones, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Lawfare Blog, and even Fox News. There must be a conference call or a chat group because the media and congressional Democrats seem to have organized and coordinated their messaging.
To stop Barr from further exposing the original hoax, the Left concocted a new one: that the attorney general lied to Congress.
A Lie About Lying
There’s a term called “autological,” which means a word or phrase that does or is what it means. For example, the word, “polysyllabic,” is autological because pronouncing the word requires articulation of multiple syllables. The phrase “Bill Barr lied to Congress,” is arguably autological—because it’s a lie about lying.
Let’s explore their argument.
Factcheck.org, is another highly autological term, because it “checks” facts that obstruct the leftist narrative in the same way a hockey player “checks” an opponent into the Plexiglas wall. I went to Factcheck.org for the “Barr lied” rationale and found that the site recently posted a convoluted analysis of the charge.
Before I examine this misleading “check” of the facts, I need to review some background.
Mueller wrote Barr a secret letter after Barr issued his March 24, 2019 summary. This was a dirty trick. Barr asked Mueller for a report that could be quickly released in its entirety. Mueller defied that request which is what made Barr’s summary letter necessary in the first place. Barr then asked for Mueller’s input into the March 24, 2019 summary before releasing it (watch Barr’s testimony here at 20:55). Mueller declined that request.
Factcheck.org conveniently left out all of that context.
When Barr released the March 24, 2019 letter to Congress, Mueller pounced. First, he sent Barr the March 27, 2019 letter, which scolds the attorney general for his summary that Mueller, although he had prior access, declined to review beforehand.
“As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the Department early in the afternoon of March 24,” Mueller wrote, “the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this Office’s work and conclusions. The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25.”
Mueller cited 28 CFR §609(c) to support this concern, a regulation that does not exist. It was a sloppy drafting error (the correct citation is 28 CFR § 600.9).
Mueller then appears to have coordinated with a Slate writer who just happened to report, “Mueller surely wrote an executive summary of his findings for Barr, and it clearly would have been easier for Barr simply to give Congress and the public Mueller’s summary than to write this letter himself. The question is why Barr didn’t.”
At that point, Mueller’s team leaked that it was unhappy with the Barr summary. Remember: Mueller turned down the opportunity to review the March 24 summary before Barr made it public.
Mueller’s leak allowed Representative Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) to ask Barr, “Reports have emerged that members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter . . . that it does not adequately or accurately . . . necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”
“No, I don’t,” Barr answered. “I suspect that they probably wanted more put out.”
An Inept Trap
Barr, at the time, did not mention Mueller’s March 27 letter. So, his critics argue, he lied to Congress by not admitting Mueller had written a letter to Barr. It was a well-planned dirty trick by the cabal of news media, congressional staffers, and the Mueller team.
But it fell apart in the execution.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.) on Wednesday attempted to spring the trap. “Would you concede that you had the opportunity to make this letter public on April 4 when Representative Crist asked you a very related question?”
“I don’t know what you mean by related question. This seems to me to be a very different question.” Barr replied. Senator Sheldon melted into stammering.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tried again. “Why did you testify on April 9 that you didn’t know the concerns being expressed by Mueller’s team, when in fact you heard those concerns directly from Mr. Mueller two weeks before?”
Barr explained that after he received the letter, he spoke directly to Mueller and “specifically asked him ‘what exactly are your concerns?’ Are you saying that the March 24 letter was misleading or inaccurate, or what?’” Mueller admitted to Barr that the March 24 letter was neither misleading nor inaccurate.
Barr then accurately re-read the Crist question which asked about Mueller’s team and their frustrations. Barr again explained that he spoke with Mueller directly and Mueller reiterated that the March 24 letter was neither misleading or inaccurate.
The real problem is that Mueller wanted Barr to execute a public-relations hit on Trump and wasn’t happy that Barr confined the summary to the bottom-line conclusions. Barr said he didn’t want to attempt to summarize the entire report and would let the report speak for itself. He has never deviated from that explanation and Mueller’s letter points to no inaccuracy or misleading information.
Thus, Barr’s answer was 100 percent accurate.
Democrats Want a Fight
Barr has now revealed that Mueller made a conscious choice to salt the report with unsegregated grand jury material. It wasn’t until after Barr released his March 24 summary that Mueller redacted the summaries from the report. Barr wasn’t interested in making a press release for the president’s enemies. That makes him an enemy of the juggernaut. That’s his real crime.
We just learned that the Justice Department sent a less-redacted Mueller report to Congress and that the Democrats haven’t bothered to read it. Instead, they now want a legal battle over Barr’s refusal to turn over a completely unredacted report.
To be clear, they don’t want the report, which is 98 percent unredacted in the public form. They want the fight.
Factcheck.org wrote (without intended irony) “at the very least, the attorney general didn’t give Congress the full story about what he knew regarding the special counsel’s concerns about his March 24 memo.”
Wait, who is misleading people by failing to tell the full story? Because when one does read all of Barr’s testimony in both hearings, the full story is apparent.
There is a very short list of names of people who really speak “truth to power,” in the last two years. There’s nothing courageous about trashing the president from the safety of a mob or inside the velvet rope of an elite social gathering. Nobody thinks Barr lied to Congress—not even the Democrats who engineered yet another hoax. On the contrary, it’s the absence of Barr’s lying that has this cabal firing off panicked rounds in his direction.
Remember all of those people who said we must endure the Russia-collusion investigation no matter how disruptive it became to the country? Remember the calls to protect Mueller? Well, now it’s time to protect Barr. He needs to get to the bottom of the conspiracy to use our criminal justice and intelligence systems as a political weapon if we want to preserve our republic.
Photo Credit: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images