Washington Post editorial board blasts Barr after hearing: He 'has lit his reputation on fire'

The Washington Post editorial board on Wednesday denounced Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJan. 6 committee chair says panel spoke to William Barr William Barr's memoir set for release in early March The enemy within: Now every day is Jan. 6 MORE following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that his handling of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE's report has "lit his reputation on fire."

The board, in an op-ed published just after Barr's testimony concluded, takes issue with several of Barr's actions, including what it described as a "highly misleading" four-page memo he sent to Congress in March that summarized Mueller's investigation's findings.  


"In particular, Mr. Barr failed to acknowledge the alarming nature of Mr. Mueller’s analysis on whether President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE obstructed justice, and he did not explain why the special counsel declined to say whether Mr. Trump was guilty of the charge," the Post writes. "This really matters: Given the damning account in Mr. Mueller’s report, what appeared to be keeping the special counsel from accusing the president of criminal acts was not the lack of evidence but the fact that the president cannot be charged under Justice Department rules."

The editorial later admonishes Barr's defense of the four-page summary, saying that his long history in Washington, D.C., should have made him aware that "pre-spinning of the Mueller report would distort the truth of the special counsel’s damning findings, to the president’s benefit."

The editorial board also accuses Barr of misleading Congress during his earlier April testimony. Barr on April 9 testified before the House that he was unaware of frustration from members of the Justice Department about his accounting of Mueller's report. 

But the Post reported Tuesday night that Mueller sent a letter to Barr on March 27 taking issue with how the attorney general summarized the investigation's findings. Barr on Wednesday defended his testimony, saying that he talked to Mueller, not "unidentified members" of his team.

Multiple leading Democrats, including several 2020 White House candidates, have called for Barr to resign in the wake of the Mueller letter's release. 

"It is long past time the public stopped hearing Mr. Barr’s views on how Mr. Mueller feels, and heard from the special counsel himself," the Post editorial concludes. "The Justice Department should enable Mr. Mueller to speak publicly and under oath at the earliest opportunity. The special counsel should address not only his substantive findings on the president’s misbehavior but also the attorney general’s manipulation of his work."

In March, Barr sent a four-page memo to Congress summarizing Mueller's 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice. The letter said that the Justice Department did not establish that there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, but that Mueller had not made a determination on whether Trump had committed obstruction.