Attorney General William Barr revealed Wednesday that he did not review the underlying evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report before he concluded that Mueller’s findings did not reach the threshold to charge President Trump with obstructing justice.
Barr made the revelation during a line of questioning led by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) who pressed Barr on what evidence he reviewed before determining that there was not sufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction.
“Now the special counsel’s investigation produced a great deal of evidence,” Harris said. “I’m led to believe it included witnesses notes and e-mails, witness interviews, testimony, which were summarized in the FBI 302 forms, former director Comey’s memos and the president’s public statements. My question is in reaching your conclusion, did you personally review all of the underlying evidence?”
“We accepted the statements in the report as the actual record. We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. We accepted it as accurate,” Barr said.
“So you accepted the report as the evidence?” Harris said. “You did not question or look at the underlying evidence that supports the conclusions in the report?”
Barr noted that both he and outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not review the underlying materials nor did other staffers in his executive office.
“Prosecution memos go up to the supervisor, in this case it was the attorney general and deputy attorney general who decide on the final decision and that is based on the memo presented to the U.S. attorney’s office,” Barr said.
“We presented the evidence presented in the report. This is not a mysterious process. And the Department Justice we have cross memos and declination memos everyday coming up and we don’t go and look at the underlying evidence. We take the characterization of the evidence as true,” he added.
“I think you’ve made it clear, sir that you have not looked at the evidence and we can move on,” Harris said.
This was a big moment: Sen. Kamala Harris got Barr to admit that he decided not to charge Trump with obstruction—perhaps the most consequential DOJ decision since Watergate—without examining any of the underlying evidence pic.twitter.com/v9lyke0HZE
— Mark Follman (@markfollman) May 1, 2019
“This Attorney General lacks all credibility and has I think compromised the American public’s ability to believe that he is a purveyor of justice,” Harris told reporters after her questioning of Barr.
“Should he resign?” a reporter asked.
After questioning William Barr @senkamalaharris: "This Attorney General lacks all credibility and has I think compromised the American public's ability to believe that he is a purveyor of justice."
Q: "Should he resign?"
Harris: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/hh8rBVHBjj
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 1, 2019