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Did Attorney General William Barr lie to Rep. Charlie Crist?

A letter from Robert Mueller to Barr on March 27 brings new attention to an exchange with Crist on April 9. Here’s why.
Attorney General William Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Published May 1
Updated May 1

The Washington Post is reporting Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller sent a letter on March 27 to Attorney General William Barr expressing displeasure with the Department of Justice’s four-page summary of the investigation into Russian election interference and President Donald Trump.

Barr’s brief summary for Congress “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of the 448-page investigation, Mueller said. The summary said Mueller found Trump did not collude with Russia and while Mueller was inconclusive on obstruction of justice, Barr determined Trump did not.

Read Mueller’s letter here.

Yet, Barr told U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on April 9 that he had no such knowledge of any discontent by Mueller or his team.

During a House Appropriations Committee, the St. Petersburg Democrat asked: “Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”

Barr said: “No, I don’t.”

“I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize,” he added.

By this point, Barr had Mueller’s letter, which spelled out his concerns. On Wednesday, Crist said, “There will be consequences” if Barr was not honest.

Crist’s full exchange with Barr can be found here.

Democrats repeatedly asked Barr Wednesday about his exchange with Crist during the attorney general’s appearance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barr said he spoke with Mueller and “he did not have objections to the accuracy of (the letter).”

“When I talked to the special counsel about the letter, my understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the findings in my letter but that he wanted more out there to provide additional context to explain his reasoning and why he didn’t reach a decision on obstruction,” Barr said.

Reached Wednesday, Crist said Barr was parsing words. Barr could have and should have disclosed the letter when the question was asked, he said.

The attorney general should resign, Crist said.

“The facts are pretty clear to me,” he said. “He not only misled the House of Representatives but also the United States Senate. When you’re doing that then you’re lying to the American people and if the chief legal officer of the United States is willing to do that, that erodes confidence in our institutions. That’s just unacceptable.”

The full, redacted report of the investigation was released on April 18. Despite what Barr’s summary inferred, the report said Mueller never sought to investigate “collusion," which is not a legal term and included many instances of Trump attempting to block and end the investigation into his campaign’s involvement in the Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails.

Three days after Barr released his four-page summary, Mueller wrote the attorney general to state “there is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation.”

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