An empty chair dominated the room as Republicans and Democrats threw accusations back and forth during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. This man was picked to be Roy Cohn and to be Donald Trump's fixer.
The White House has accused special counsel Robert Mueller's team of playing politics with the investigation and wildly straying from their mission in a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr last month and released Thursday afternoon.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't mince her words Thursday about the attorney general of the United States.
But Pelosi said the Trump administration was continuing to ignore congressional subpoenas and noted that Congress launched impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon in the 1970s after he resisted similar demands. Though a redacted version of the report has been released since Mueller wrote that letter, there's still great interest in his thoughts on Barr's behavior.
Sen. Mazie Hirono told Barr "The American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office." Sen.
Barr said he objected to the format of the hearing after Democrats made a decision to let staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning after lawmakers were done.
At her news conference, Pelosi didn't specify any particular falsehoods by Barr.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called Pelosi's allegation "reckless, irresponsible and false".
Barr spent four hours before a Republican-led Senate committee on Wednesday defending his handling of Mueller's report on Russia's interference in the election to boost Trump's candidacy and whether the president subsequently tried to obstruct Mueller's probe. Committee Democrats have vowed to issue a subpoena to try to force Barr to testify if he does not show up.
"The reason Bill Barr isn't here today is because the Democrats decided they didn't want him here today", said the top Republican on the panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins. It comes the same day the department missed a committee deadline to provide the panel with a full, unredacted version of Mueller's Russian Federation report and its underlying evidence.
Essentially, the White House letter argues that Mueller's team was playing politics when they specifically stated in the report that it "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction of justice.
Earlier this year, Barr was confirmed by the Senate 54-45, with multiple Democrats voting in his favor, and in 1991, Barr was unanimously confirmed as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush by a Democrat-controlled Senate by voice vote. He said Barr had also failed to provide to the committee a copy of the unredacted report as requested by his committee in a subpoena, and that legal actions to get the report would be a higher priority than moves to compel Barr to testify. Those who believe he is doing a good job will continue to see the Mueller report, and the continuing attention paid to it, as a witch hunt means to sully the president. It found, however, that Mr Trump and his campaign did not engage in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.