Angus King: 'Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass'

Angus King: 'Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingCongress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Democrats brace for round two of impeachment witness fight The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases MORE (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Friday ripped Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Barr wrote 2018 memo contradicting Trump's claim that abuse of power is not impeachable Brent Budowsky: McConnell, Roberts and Trump on trial MORE for declaring President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE did not obstruct justice with regard to investigations into possible Russian collusion in 2016.

“Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass and tried to take it over himself,” King said in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”

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Barr said in a letter to Congress last month that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts Journalist alleging Obama administration spied on her seeks to reopen case Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE concluded after reviewing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s evidence that there was not enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction.

Mueller’s report, however, neither exonerated nor implicated the president regarding obstruction of justice, instead punting the ultimate decision to Congress.

Democrats have seized on Barr’s determination, saying it was preemptive and suggesting he was seeking to defend the president.

"Special Counsel Mueller's report paints a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behavior and acting as if the law doesn't apply to him. But if you hadn't read the report and listened only to Mr. Barr, you wouldn't have known any of that because Mr. Barr has been so misleading," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial Feds seek 25-year sentence for Coast Guard officer accused of targeting lawmakers, justices Clinton: McConnell's rules like 'head juror colluding with the defendant to cover up a crime' MORE (N.Y.) said in a joint statement Thursday. 

King said Barr’s statements on obstruction of justice could hurt his credibility in front of Congress when he testifies next month.

“He went out of his way to try to give the president what he wanted to hear, and then the report comes out and it doesn’t say what he said,” King said. “I think what he’s hurt is his own credibility with the Congress, I don’t think there’s any action Congress needs to take. I think the next time he appears before a committee and makes these kinds of declarative statements, he’s going to have a credibility problem.”