For a guy supposedly hellbent on engineering a pro-Trump cover-up, Attorney General Bill Barr is certainly acting strangely. After accurately conveying the Mueller report's bottom line legal determinations, releasing nearly the entire report to the public with minimal redactions, offering an even less-redacted version to members of Congress, and testifying about his decisions before a Senate committee for multiple hours, Barr has once again stated that he has no objection to the Special Counsel testifying before Congress. Barr may not have any grounds to theoretically do so, now that Mueller is no longer his subordinate, but in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barr says he's washed his hands of the whole Mueller drama. As far as he's concerned, his professional involvement is over, and it's time for him to move on to his other duties:
Attorney General William Barr denied he is standing in the way of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, after the chairman of the House panel seeking his appearance accused the Justice Department of being unwilling to set a date. “It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify,” Mr. Barr told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, en route to El Salvador, a trip focused on increasing international cooperation against the violent street gang MS-13, which has roots in both Central America and the U.S. “I’m trying to break away from Washington and do the real work of the attorney general,” he said.
Remember the rumors that Mueller was going to testify earlier this week? That obviously didn't come to pass -- leading to questions about why the Special Counsel hasn't yet appeared before Congress. Barr says doesn't know, other than being aware of continuing talks: "Mr. Barr said only that he is aware of continuing negotiations between the special counsel’s office and the House Judiciary Committee over Mr. Mueller’s appearance," the Journal reported. With Mueller free to do as he pleases, why haven't we seen a spate of hearings and media interviews? Ed Morrissey wonders if Mueller might be inclined to simply let his hundreds of pages of work product to his talking:
If Mueller truly felt his work had been mischaracterized, especially by Barr, wouldn’t we have already seen a 60 Minutes interview with Mueller? If Barr’s not muzzling Mueller, then the only other conclusion is that Mueller himself may not be interested in talking to anyone about the report or the investigation. It’s very likely, given Mueller’s institutional instincts, that he feels the report is his testimony, to which Mueller would be disinclined to add or subtract. Nadler will want to grill him on other issues, such as whether Mueller felt any interference with his probe, but Mueller might be disinclined to delve too deeply there either. Mueller’s not talking, and it doesn’t look like that is William Barr’s fault.
Well, it's certainly not Barr's 'fault,' but I'm not necessarily convinced that Mueller won't break his public silence -- either before a Congressional committee, or in press interviews. His "snitty" letter to Barr, sent in between Barr's memo and the report's release, was leaked just before Barr's testimony. That suggests that Mueller may feel he has more to say. Perhaps not. Time will tell. In the interim, with follow-on investigations underway, and new allegations and finger-pointing flying, I'll leave you with Barr's delightful greeting for Speaker Pelosi at a recent event (in case you missed it):
Today at a law enforcement ceremony at Capitol:— Nicholas Fandos (@npfandos) May 15, 2019
AG Barr approached Pelosi, shook her hand: "Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?"
Pelosi smiled and, per a bystander, told Barr the House Sergeant at Arms was there should an arrest be needed. Barr laughed; walked away