Attorney General William Barr on Monday accused Democrats of trying to create a “public spectacle” by subpoenaing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before Congress about the Russia investigation.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said the Justice Department would support Mueller if he decides he “doesn’t want to subject himself” to congressional testimony. Barr also said the Justice Department would seek to block any attempt by Congress to subpoena members of the special counsel’s team.
There’s no indication that Mueller does not wish to appear before Congress on July 17. But he put lawmakers on notice that any testimony he gives will not go beyond his 448-page report that was released in April. At a news conference in May, Mueller said the team chose the words in the report carefully and that the work speaks for itself.
“I’m not sure what purpose is served by dragging him up there and trying to grill him,” Barr said. “I don’t think Mueller should be treated that way or subject himself to that, if he doesn’t want to.”
Mueller no longer works for the Justice Department, but the department could attempt to limit his testimony about decisions he made as special counsel.
Barr spoke to the AP Monday in South Carolina, where he visited a prison to discuss the criminal justice reform Trump signed into law last year.
Democrats have criticized Barr, saying he acts more like the president’s personal lawyer than the attorney general. Barr enthusiastically embraced Trump’s political agenda, cast Mueller’s report as a vindication for the president and launched an investigation into the origins of the probe — something Trump has repeatedly said should happen.
You have to love the fact that the AG is openly saying that he supports members of the Department of Justice defying subpoenas. That "rule o' law" we used to hear so much about is quaint these days.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said the Trump administration will take action in the coming days that he believes will allow the government to ask the controversial question. Barr would not detail the administration’s plans, though a senior official said President Donald Trump is expected to issue a presidential memorandum to the Commerce Department instructing it to include the question.↓ Story continues below ↓
The Supreme Court’s June ruling was a blow to Trump , who has been pressing for the government to ask about citizenship on next year’s census. The U.S. Census Bureau’s experts have said a question asking about citizenship would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey and result in a less accurate census. That in turn would redistribute money and political power away from Democratic-led cities where immigrants tend to cluster to whiter, rural areas where Republicans do well.
Barr said he has been in regular contact with Trump over the issue.
“I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong,” said Barr. He said he believes there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.”
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says the Trump administration wants to put the citizenship question on the 2020 census to discourage Hispanic-Americans from being counted for fear information could be used to possibly deport one of their relatives. (July 8)
The Trump administration has argued that the question was being added to aid in enforcing the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in last month’s Supreme Court decision, saying the administration’s justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”
It’s unclear what new rationale for asking the question the administration might include in a presidential memorandum.
Sure, they repeatedly told the courts that they had a drop-dead deadline on June 30, even insisting that they fast-track it to the Supreme Court, but now that they don't like the outcome they're saying there's no hurry.
The lawyers who argued the case on that basis have now been removed, for obvious reasons. They would have to say that the government lied and they could be held liable under legal ethics rules. So they've found some other lawyers to take up the case.
In case Barr's clever little trick doesn't pass muster, Trump says he's just going to tell the Supreme Court to go to hell and issue an executive order that the citizenship question be put on the forms anyway.
And by the way, Trump screwed the pooch (again) by admitting in public that the whole point of this is for redictricting, which is exactly what his lawyers have been very careful to say is not the case --- mainly because it's unconstitutional.
But who cares what he says, amirite? He's just the president whom the Attorney General is also saying in public is the one instructing them to take these actions. He's given them the "rationale" whether they want to admit it or not.
Published with permission from Digby's Hullabaloo