Top Mueller prosecutor: Barr caught in a lie about Russia investigation
One of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors believes Attorney General William Barr was caught making a “false statement” about the Russia investigation.
Andrew Weissmann, who was known as Mueller’s “pit bull,” told MSNBC that a House Democrat cornered Barr during the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday into admitting the White House did not fully cooperate with the special counsel investigation as he had claimed more than a year ago.
“I thought Rep. Neguse did a phenomenal job in cornering the attorney general in what I think is going to come out of this is something that really is a false statement. He said, ‘You said in a press conference that the White House fully cooperated in the Mueller investigation,’ and the attorney general would not repeat that under oath. He said, ‘No, no, what I really meant was fully cooperated only with respect to document production,'” Weissmann said.
Weissmann said he “went back” and looked at the statement from Barr and found that not to be true. “He said fully cooperated with respect to documents and witnesses,” he added.
“Swalwell in terms of mechanics … Jayapal did a terrific job in showing opportunistic federalism … Neguse did a phenomenal job in cornering the attorney general.” pic.twitter.com/p6o4Sw9LNE
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 29, 2020
Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, dared Barr “under the penalty of perjury” to confirm whether his statement to the media on April 18, 2019, that the White House “fully cooperated” with Mueller was true at the time he made it.
After Barr, who pensively put his hand to his face, replied in the affirmative, a heated exchange ensued when the congressman tried to move on and the attorney general demanded he be allowed to answer “the damn question” fully. Barr said he thought he was referring only to documents, but Neguse asserted the statement was not limited to records.
Indeed, as the congressman and Weissmann pointed out, Barr referenced both documents and testimony when he made the statement in advance of the release of Mueller’s report.
“The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation,” he said at the Justice Department.
Democrats, who have long criticized Barr’s rollout of Mueller’s report, have also lamented how the special counsel did not demand an interview with President Trump after failed negotiations with the president’s legal team. Instead, Trump submitted written answers to questions posed by Mueller’s team.