Here's why AG Barr 'crossed the line established by federal criminal law' — and should be prosecuted: legal experts
This Wednesday, July 24, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to testify before two separate Democrat-led committees in the House of Representatives — and some of the questions will no doubt involve Attorney General William Barr’s response to Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation. That response has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats as well as from some of President Donald Trump’s conservative detractors. And two days ahead of Mueller’s testimony, former Homeland Security advisor Elizabeth Holtzman, a Democrat, and New York University law professor Ryan Goodman recommend on the Just Security website that the House of Representatives refer Barr for criminal prosecution for lying to Congress.
Prior to joining the NYU faculty in 2009, Goodman (a Just Security co-founder) was a law professor at Harvard University. The 77-year-old Holtzman, also an attorney, served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and went on to serve as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council before resigning in 2018.
“Based on the available public record about the Russia investigation,” Holtzman and Goodman declare in their Just Security article, “it’s clear that the Attorney General has repeatedly deceived Congress in a manner that appears to have crossed the line established by federal criminal law. It’s a federal offence if anyone intentionally ‘falsifies, conceals or covers up by any trick, scheme or device a material fact’ or makes a ‘materially false’ statement before Congress.”
Holtzman and Goodman recommend that after Mueller’s testimony, Congress “should consider transmitting Barr’s multiple testimonies to the Justice Department” and “call for a special counsel to” investigate the attorney general. And they go on to explain why they believe such actions are necessary.
First, they write, Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida asked Barr, during an April hearing, if he knew what was meant by news reports that members of Mueller’s team believed his response to Mueller’s report was inadequate — and he responded, “No, I don’t.” The evidence, according to Holtzman and Goodman, says otherwise.
Second, Holtzman and Goodman allege, Barr wasn’t forthcoming about his communications with members of Mueller’s staff. And third, according to the legal experts, Barr was being dishonest when he responded, “I don’t know” after being asked by Sen. Kamala Harris if Trump or anyone else in the White House has ever asked him to open an investigation of anyone.
Fourth, according to Holtzman and Goodman, Barr has been untruthful about his views on “legal theories on obstruction” of justice.
“Barr’s misleading and contradictory testimony is too serious to ignore,” Holtzman and Goodman assert. “A special counsel must look into the matter just as the special counsel looked into whether then-Attorney General Sessions lied to Congress about Russia contacts. Congress must make it clear that it will not tolerate deceptions by any witness, including the attorney general himself.”