Famous Watergate prosecutor calls on Barr to make Mueller report ‘public in full’


When the U.S. Senate holds its confirmation vote for William Barr—President Donald Trump’s nominee for a permanent attorney general—today, he is almost certain to be confirmed. One of the most important matters Barr will be facing is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and when Watergate-era prosecutor Ronald S. Liebman made a Valentine’s Day appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he stressed that Mueller’s final report must be “made public in full” when it comes out.

Liebman, now 75, is famous for prosecuting Spiro T. Agnew, vice president under President Richard Nixon, in 1973—a prosecution that led to Agnew resigning that year, pleading no contest to a felony charge of tax evasion and being replaced by Gerald R. Ford (who became president after Nixon’s Watergate-inspired resignation in August 1974). Speaking to “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski today, Liebman stressed that Barr, if confirmed, must live up to “the Richardson standard.”

The late Elliot L. Richardson served as attorney general under Nixon, and he resigned rather than obey Nixon’s order to fire Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Arguably, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions applied “the Richardson standard” when he recused himself from Mueller’s probe, much to Trump’s consternation.

“Elliot Richardson is the gold standard for what we should demand of our attorney generals,” Liebman told Scarborough and Brzezinski. “He protected Archibald Cox as the special prosecutor.”

Richardson, Liebman explained, “promised the Senate” that he would “fully disclose” the “final report that the special prosecutor produced. William Barr has refused to make that commitment to the Senate, and that’s a very serious failure to live up to the very high standard that Elliot Richardson created when he performed in that office.”

Liebman added that although Barr’s confirmation “seems to be a done deal,” the U.S. Senate “could make it very clear to him that it expects and, if necessary, will require that Robert Mueller’s final report be fully disclosed to the Congress—and even more importantly, to the American people—so that we know exactly what Mueller found out.”

It is mostly unlikely that Barr won’t be confirmed by the Senate. Previously, Barr served as attorney general another Republican president: George H.W. Bush, and he had no problem being confirmed by the Senate in 1991 even though it was controlled by Democrats at the time and future vice president Joe Biden was heading the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden, in fact, spoke highly of Bush 41’s nominee that year. And if Barr was confirmed by a Democratic Senate and praised by Biden 28 years ago, his chances of being rejected by a GOP-controlled Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are slim and none.

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