ORLANDO, FL – Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) today said the following:
Said Rep. Demings, “I have taken four oaths of office: two as a law enforcement officer and two as a Member of Congress. However, each oath, including the one taken by Attorney General Barr, stated, “I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Our democracy will not survive without public servants who value justice, accountability, and the rule of law.
“Mr. Barr, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, has disgraced his oath, choosing to protect the president while betraying his duty to the American people.
“Mr. Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report was devised to deceive the American people. Mr. Barr’s press conference imitated the deceptive talking points of the President’s lawyers instead of the honesty and integrity expected of a public servant. Mr. Barr’s congressional testimony, we now know, included at least two statements which were purposefully misleading if not outright lies. It is impossible to defend the indefensible.
“The U.S. Attorney General must be the people’s lawyer. I gave Mr. Barr the benefit of the doubt and hoped that he would follow his oath of office. He has not done so. Mr. Barr should do the last honorable thing available to him and resign.”
Attorney General Barr has purposefully misled the American people regarding the conclusions of the Special Counsel.
Attorney General Barr’s letter, according to analysis by The New York Times, took Mr. Mueller’s words out of context to suggest the president had no motive to obstruct justice, omitted words suggesting that there was complicit conduct that fell short of “coordination,” truncated the special counsel explanation of what “coordination” meant, omitted the reason Mr. Mueller trumpeted the thoroughness of his factual investigation, and imprecisely portrayed Mr. Mueller as encountering “difficult issues” in reaching a decision on obstruction.
In a letter to Attorney General Barr on March 27th, three days after Barr’s four-page summary, Special Counsel Mueller wrote that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusion.” Mueller’s letter also made it clear that his team had prepared ready-to-release public summaries of the report’s findings. Barr instead chose to hide these summaries and release his own. Mueller further wrote that “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel.” Barr spoke to Mueller about these concerns on March 28th.
Two weeks later, on April 9th, Barr testified under oath before Congress and was asked by Rep. Charlie Crist (FL-13) whether he knew what was behind reports that members of Mueller’s team were frustrated by the attorney general’s summary. Barr said, “no I don’t.” Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland asked Barr, “did Bob Mueller support your conclusions?” Barr responded, “I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusions.”
This was two weeks after Special Counsel Mueller wrote that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusion.”
Mr. Barr did not tell the truth.
Perhaps the most troubling example of Mr. Barr’s multiple misleading summaries is his discussion of the OLC’s guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted—a foundational issue at the heart of the entire obstruction investigation.
Mr. Barr has attempted to claim that the OLC guidance was not a major factor for Mr. Mueller. In fact, the first page of the Mueller Report’s second volume makes it clear that the OLC guidance was the guiding factor that determined the entire approach to the obstruction of justice investigation. To quote:
Vol 2, Pg. 1: “a traditional prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to initiate or decline a prosecution, but we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment…The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President’ [is impermissible].”
Vol 2, Pg. 2: Therefore, “we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgement that the President committed crimes,” because it was unfair to “potentially [reach] that judgement when no charges can be brought.”
Vol 2, Pg. 2: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgement.”