– You lied to Congress – Mazie Hirono attacks William Barr



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WASHINGTON – After a morning of attacks, US Attorney General William Barr caught one on the chin of Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, a Democrat who is known to aggressively question witnesses.

Barr was on Capitol Hill to testify about how he handled the report of Special Adviser Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The morning consisted partly of Barr defending his manipulation of the report, which became public at the beginning of this month.

Several Democrats challenged Barr, but none did so with the vigor of Hirono, who seemed to shock the veteran lawyer visibly. She did this by not asking questions but making affirmations about his behavior.

"You lied to Congress," she said, referring to Barr's testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on April 9, when Rep. Charlie Crist, R-Fla. He asked Barr if he knew Mueller's team members were "frustrated" by the four-page summary of the special council report. Barr's summary was largely in favor of Trump. Since then, it has emerged that Mueller himself had written a letter to Barr, expressing concern about the summary and how it was being described in the media reports.

"He did not know if Mueller supported his conclusions," Hirono told Barr of Crist's interrogation during the April 9 hearing, "but you knew you lied." And now we know.

The exchange between Barr and Hirono grew so much that Sen. Judge Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, intervened to defend the attorney general.

"You slandered this man from top to bottom," Graham said irritably to Hirono.

11 PHOTOS

William Barr over the years

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Archive – In this archive photo of November 12, 1991, then Attorney General William Barr is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barr once advised the US government that it could attack Iraq without congressional approval, arrest a deposed foreign dictator and capture suspects abroad without the country's permission. These decisions reflect a broad vision of the presidential power that Barr, President Donald Trump chose to regain his former position as Attorney General, demonstrated at the Justice Department and in subsequent years. (AP Photo / John Duricka)

US President George H. Bush sanctioned new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a ceremony at the Rose Garden on Thursday, November 21, 1991 in Washington, while Vice President Dan Quayle on the left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr note. The signing of the law limited a two-year struggle with Congress over whether legislation encouraged job quotas. (AP Photo / Marcy Nighswander)

US President George H. Bush on the right and William Barr waved after Barr took office as the new US Attorney General on Tuesday, November 26, 1991, at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington . (AP Photo / Scott Applewhite)

US President George H. Bush gestures while speaking with Attorney General William Barr at the White House Oval Office on Monday, May 4, 1992 in Washington. The president met with top cabinet officials to address the far-reaching issues that were swept up by the riots last week in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Marcy Nighswander)

MCI Telecommunications Board Member Nicholas Katzenbach, second on the left, speaks in audience before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "The WorldCom Case: Looking at Bankruptcy and Competition Issues" at the Capitol in Washington, July 22 2003. Witnesses are from the left, Verizon Communications executive vice president and general counsel William Barr, Katzenbach, Marcia Goldstein, Weil Gotshal and Manguins LLP, Morton Bahr, president of the National Bankruptcy Conference Douglas Baird, chief operating officer of Cerberus Capital Management Mark Neporent. (AP Photo / Akira Ono)

Former Georgia congressman Bob Barr on the left listens to William Redpath, national president of the Libertarian Party, to answer a question at a press conference in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, October 23, 2007. (AP Photo)

Donald Trump Attorney General William Barr meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Barr, who held the position in the early 1990s. A confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week can be held at the Justice Department in February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump's Attorney General, William Barr, on the left, meets with the Senate Judiciary Committee member and confidant Senator Lindsey Graham, RS, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and can be held at the Department of Justice in February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves later that Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump's attorney general, William Barr, arrives to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee member and confidant Senator Lindsey Graham, RSC, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and can be held at the Department of Justice in February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump's attorney general, William Barr, on the right, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Barr, who took office in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and may be in effect at the Department of Justice, as of February, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr be confirmed. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Attorney General William Barr, on the left, turns to answer a reporter's question when he meets Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)




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Hirono, like many of Trump's critics on the left, described Barr as an unquestionable assistant to the president. "Now the American people know that you are no different than Rudy Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway or anyone else who sacrificed their once decent reputation," Hirono said, referring to Trump's personal lawyer and senior White House counsel.

"You chose to be the president's lawyer and stand by him for the interests of the American people," Hirono told the attorney general. Barr replaced Jeff Sessions, whom the president criticized for lack of loyalty, despite being Trump's first Senate endorser.

Hirono also asked Barr if it was "OK" for Trump to instruct his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to lie to Mueller. This finding, which is in the Mueller report, was seen by many as a clear example of obstruction of justice.

"I am willing to discuss what is criminal," Barr replied, not knowing what Hirono was talking about. He had said, at the beginning of his testimony, that asking someone to lie, as long as it did not obstruct justice, was not a criminal offense.

"Give us some credit for knowing what the hell is going on around here," Hirono said sharply.

Things started to happen quickly after that, prompting Graham to berate Hirono. Graham's criticism of his fellow Democrats on the committee recalled the hearing on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

Hirono, however, made a point, and despite having few questions about the report, she had a professional recommendation to Barr: "You should resign."

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