Perhaps you recall that when Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was asked point blank by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) if he had ever been ordered to conduct specific investigations by President Donald Trump or anyone in the White House. Here’s how part of that exchange went:
Harris: “Attorney General Barr has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?”
Barr: “Um. I wouldn’t … I wouldn’t. uh—”
Harris: “Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.”
Barr: “Yeah, but I’m. I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest.’ I mean, there have been discussions of, of matters out there that. uh- – they have not asked me to open an investigation. But…”
Now that Barr is directly implicated in the Ukraine scandal, the attorney general’s inability to answer the senator’s question has taken on a new urgency, and that has led to some Senate Democrats demanding answers, the Daily Beast reports:
“On Tuesday, the Democrats—Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)—sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, asking him to investigate whether Barr was pushed by President Trump or anyone in the White House to open investigations into U.S. political figures like the Bidens.”
Horowitz is expected to testify before the the Senate Judiciary Committee later this month, and that could wind up being a very consequential hearing since the inspector general will be under oath and could be charged if he lies on behalf of AG Barr. Or, if he does testify honestly, that too could wind up being very bad for the attorney general, who has been traveling all over the world trying to determine the origins of the Russia probe which was conducted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
All of this hints at a much larger role being played by Barr on Trump’s behalf. If he is indeed investigating people at the suggestion of the president, that alone would be grounds for the AG’s impeachment. And if he has done anything outside the bounds of the law, he can be criminally charged.
The next couple of weeks should be interesting not only for what comes out of the impeachment hearings, but also what is discovered at that Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Inspector General Horowitz.