By Paul Steinhauser
Published April 18, 2019
Democratic presidential candidates directed their ire toward Attorney General Bill Barr on Thursday as they blasted the law enforcement chief's handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, including the press conference Barr held moments before the report's release.
Many of the 2020 White House hopefuls accused Barr of mounting a defense of the Republican president ahead of potentially damaging revelations in the Mueller report.
One Democratic presidential candidate, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, went a step further -- calling on Barr to resign.
“The attorney general can represent the United States or he can be Donald Trump’s defense attorney. He can’t be both. And as we saw at this press conference today, the way that he mischaracterized the Mueller report, he is seeking to help Donald Trump. He should resign,” Swalwell told Fox News. “We need an attorney general who has credibility with the American people.”
Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, argued that the report spotlights “glaring vulnerabilities in our democracy” due to “the fact that so many Russians were able to get so close to a campaign, a transition, and an administration.”
And Swalwell stressed that “it’s now Congress’s job to hold the president responsible and investigate this Mueller report and hear first from Mueller.”
Four of Swalwell’s higher-profile rivals for the Democratic nomination – Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – all quickly called for Mueller to testify in front of Congress.
“Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation's Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda,” Harris wrote on Twitter.
“Americans deserve the unvarnished truth. We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress.”
Klobuchar said in a video that “we want to hear from Director Mueller himself. Director Mueller should come to testify before the Judiciary Committee that I sit on.”’
“He should be able to give us his own views of what happened here so we can answer questions. He’s the one that conducted this major investigation and he’s the one – not Attorney General Barr – that should answer the questions of America,” the senator added.
Booker echoed those calls, saying on Twitter that “Mueller must testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as possible. Congress & the American people need to hear directly from the person who authored the report.”
And Gillibrand, on Twitter, called for the release of the full, unredacted report.
“The Senate should hold public hearings on the investigation with major witnesses and Mueller should testify to his findings. And give Congress the full, unredacted report,” she urged.
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also took aim at Barr.
“It's a disgrace to see an Attorney General acting as if he's the personal attorney and publicist for the President of the United States,” she wrote on Twitter.