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Barr Is 'Slicing the Onion Very, Very Thinly'

And other reactions from the media universe
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2019 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Reaction to William Barr's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee is no calmer than anything else these days. "He must resign as attorney general," states NBC News analyst Mimi Rocah. "William Barr torched his reputation," cries the Washington Post. On the other side: "No, Bill Barr Didn't Lie or Mislead," per the National Review. Much of the discussion revolves around a letter from Robert Mueller criticizing Barr's four-page summary of the special counsel's report, revealed Tuesday night. What does Barr have to say about that? Did he lie in testimony last month when he said, "I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion"? The real head-turner was likely Barr's characterization of Mueller's letter as "snitty." Let's start with that:

  • "Barr seemed to be admitting, finally, that the letter was what it was: a diplomatically worded but pretty direct rebuke of him and his actions," writes Aaron Blake in the Washington Post. "...If only Barr had provided that fuller picture from the beginning."

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  • "It's true that Barr could have revealed the Mueller letter in this exchange, but he also might have considered their back-and-forth private (although the letter was clearly written to leak)," writes Rich Lowry at the National Review.
  • Barr "was clearly peeved, even defiant, at the criticism that his actions had played a distorting role in molding the narrative of the Mueller report in a way that benefited his boss," per the New York Times.
  • "William Barr can no longer effectively serve as the attorney general of the United States," writes Rocah at NBC News. "...We should expect and demand objectively, neutrality, honesty and integrity from our top law enforcement official."
  • Barr said President Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn to remove Mueller over alleged conflict of interest, which differs from a "firing": "That's slicing the onion very, very thinly," writes Chris Cillizza at CNN.
  • "There's no great mystery about what Attorney General William Barr did Wednesday," writes Andrew Cohen at Rolling Stone. "...[He] spent hours spinning like a defense attorney with his client’s liberty on the line."
  • Barr "spent five hours Wednesday attempting to lay waste to the central findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's 22-month investigation, taking cutting—sometimes personal—swipes at the man he once described as a friend, and cementing his alliance with President Donald Trump," per Politico.
  • On Barr's apparent surprise that Mueller punted on obstruction charges: "I was not surprised" by Barr's surprise, Ken Starr tells Fox News, per Yahoo. "That was Bob Mueller's job. And why Bob Mueller did not bite the bullet and come to that decision remains a bit of a mystery."
(Read more Mueller report stories.)

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