- BuzzFeed News published a bombshell report on Thursday night, alleging that President Donald Trump instructed his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about how long the Trump Tower Moscow deal had been worked on.
- A spokesman for the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office disputed elements of BuzzFeed’s report a day later, saying in an email to INSIDER the “description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”
- Following the release of that report, people began sharing a clip from William Barr’s confirmation hearing. Barr is Trump’s nominee for attorney general. If confirmed, he would oversee the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.
- In an exchange with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Wisconsin, Barr answers questions on what he considers obstruction of justice.
During his Tuesday hearing, William Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, answered a series of questions from Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota about obstruction of justice.
In June 2018, Barr sent an unsolicited memo about obstruction of justice to the White House. The memo addressed the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election in Trump’s favour.
The memo, which has prompted scepticism from Democrats over Barr’s ability to serve as attorney general, questions the scope of Mueller’s investigation – and whether the special counsel can probe Trump about obstruction of justice.
During the hearing this week, Democrats questioned Barr about the memo – including the following exchange with Klobuchar – and where he did acknowledge that a president can obstruct justice.
“In your memo, you talk about the Comey decision and you talk about obstruction of justice, and you already went over that, which I appreciate,” Klobuchar says. “You wrote on page one that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?
“That – yes,” Barr replies. “Or any, well any person who persuades another.”
“You also said that a president – or any person – convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction,” Klobuchar continues. “Is that right?”
“Yes,” Barr says.
“OK. And on page two you said that a president deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction?”
“Yes,” Barr says.
“OK. So what if a president told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon?” Klobuchar asks.
“I’d have to know the specific – I’d have to know the specific facts,” Barr replies.
“OK, you wrote on page one that if a president knowingly destroys or alters evidence that would be obstruction.”
“Yes,” Barr says.
“OK. So what if the president drafted a misleading statement to conceal the purpose of a meeting?” she asks. “Would that be obstruction?”
“Again, I’d have to know the specifics,” Barr says.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and who is a close ally to Trump, posed a similar question to Barr:
“If there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or to testify falsely that could be obstruction of justice?”
“Yes,” Barr responded.
The exchanges – focused specifically on the first two questions about witnesses – was being shared Thursday night, after a new report from BuzzFeed News alleged that President Donald Trump instructed his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about how long the Trump Organisation was in talks for a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
A spokesman for the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office disputed elements of BuzzFeed’s report a day later, saying in an email to INSIDER the “description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”
It is not immediately clear which claims the special counsel’s office is disputing.
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