William Barr was working to avoid directly answering a single question during his Senate testimony on Wednesday until it was Kamala Harris’ turn, when she managed to land body blow after body blow on Trump’s attorney general—which eventually culminated in her calling on him to resign.
Harris’ questioning seemed to break through, leaving Barr flustered, confused, and looking downright pathetic as he scrambled to cover his own ass.
Harris opened her time by asking Barr whether Trump or anyone at the White House suggested he open a Department of Justice investigation into anyone—something Trump himself has publicly requested. Barr, looking frustrated, asked her to repeat what seemed like a pretty easy question to answer (“I will repeat it,” Harris responded, gleefully) to which he said that he was confused by the word “suggest.”
“Hinted?” Harris offered. “Inferred?”
Ultimately, Barr was unable to answer the question, and Harris moved on. She needled Barr into admitting that neither he, nor Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, nor anyone in his office had read all of the underlying evidence Mueller provided before deciding that the special counsel’s report did not warrant any further criminal charges.
“We accepted the statements in [Mueller’s] report as the factual record. We did not go underneath it to see if they were accurate,” Barr stammered.
Harris wasn’t having it.
“If in any U.S. Attorney’s office around the country, the head of that office, when being asked to make a critical decision about—in this case, the person who holds the highest office in the land and whether or not that person committed a crime—would you accept them recommending a charging decision to you, if they had not reviewed the evidence?” she shot back.
Barr, clearly flustered, proceeded to bend over backwards to claim the decision of whether to file charges had been Mueller’s to make while simultaneously asserting that he still had the final word on the matter. Hmm.
Harris then shifted gears to focus on Rosenstein who, in addition to supervising Mueller’s investigation, was also a witness.
“Did you consult with DOJ ethics officials before you enlisted Rod Rosenstein to participate in a charging decision for an investigation the subject of which he is also a witness?” Harris asked the attorney general.
“My understanding was he had been cleared already to participate in it,” a visibly shaken Barr answered. “I think they cleared it when he took over the investigation.”
Barr’s answer was far from a firm yes—something Harris quickly seized on, asking, “You don’t know whether he’s been cleared?”
“This seems to be a bit of a flip flop because when the president’s supporters were challenging Rosenstein—” Barr started to respond, only to be cut off by Harris.
“Sir,” Harris said. “The flip flop in this case is that you’re not answering the question directly.”
Shortly after their exchange, Harris spoke to reporters outside the Senate hearing chamber, saying Barr lacks “all credibility” and calling for him to resign.
She then left little room for doubt, doubling down on her call for Barr to step down on Twitter:
Barr is a slippery dude, but it nice to see him nailed down—if only briefly—for once.