At the April 9 and 10 April congressional hearings, Attorney General William P. Barr disagreed with Special Attorney Robert S. Mueller III and members of his team of prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
When Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-mD) asked him whether Mueller supported his conclusion the next day that there was not enough evidence to conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice, he replied «I don’t know.»
Assuming that Mueller’s letter — only part of which was made public — contradicted the testimony of the attorney-general under oath, Van Hollen said “Barr must resign.”
In a letter dated March 27, Mueller protested that Barr’s four-page note «does not fully reflect the context, nature and essence» of his work. In a subsequent telephone conversation between Mueller and Barr, long-standing colleagues, whose divergent views on the treatment of the Russian investigation are already beginning to show sharply, a special lawyer expressed concern about the lack of public understanding of the component that impedes the investigation.
According to officials of the Ministry of Justice, Mueller pointed out in a conversation that he did not find fault with the accuracy of the note, but rather with the conclusions reached in the media.
Although he did not study the whole letter, Van Hollen concluded:
“From what I saw, it is clear to me that what Prosecutor General Barr told me was completely at odds with what he knew at that time.”
“Now you have a pattern of misleading behavior on the part of the attorney general,” added Van Hollen. «His straightforwardly misleading answer to my question is part of that.»
Outside of Capitol Hill, some of the critics of the president quickly concluded that the attorney general should be removed, and some suggested that he had perjured.
However, legal experts were skeptical that the uncertainty associated with specific objections raised by a special lawyer makes it difficult to assess Barr’s candor. Thus, the ambiguity of the language used by the attorney general, as well as the lawmakers interrogating him, is likely to shield him from being charged with perjury, said Jennifer Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Federal law criminalizes false statements about material things under oath both knowingly and intentionally.
Nobody makes the public. It remains unclear whether Mueller will testify before Congress and under what conditions.
Natalia Veselnitskaya — official website