Democrats rip Barr over IG statement: 'Mouthpiece' for Trump

Senate Democrats ripped Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter MORE on Monday after he broke with the Department of Justice's (DOJ) top watchdog on whether or not there was enough information to open up an investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016. 
 
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as part of his report released on Monday, said he believed there was enough evidence to warrant opening up the probe, while Barr, in a statement, said the FBI had an “insufficient” basis to justify the steps taken. 
 
"Barr’s decision to question the report in the media says a lot about Attorney General Barr," said Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency from chopping block Citizens United decision weathers 10 years of controversy Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change MORE (D-R.I.). "The Inspector General is an important defender against political influence over law enforcement—a regrettable tendency under Attorney General Barr." 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMeadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions Bolton book alleges Trump tied Ukraine aid freeze to Biden investigations: NYT Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (D-N.Y.), asked about prosecutor John DurhamJohn DurhamJim Comey's damaging legacy at the FBI must be undone Federal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment MORE's separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, took a passing swipe at Barr as he weighed in. Durham’s office also issued a statement Monday disagreeing with some of the conclusions of Horowitz’s report “as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” though he did not elaborate further.
 
"When Attorney General Barr picked Durham, I was skeptical because Attorney General Barr has proven to be a mouthpiece for President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense MORE and his wrongdoing, not an enforce rule of law attorney general," Schumer said. 
 
Schumer added that "if Durham was so nonpolitical, he never would have issued that statement." 
 
But Democrats largely trained their fire throughout Monday on Barr, who was confirmed to his job in a 54-45 vote largely along party lines. 
  
"Barr deliberately deceived the public about the Mueller report, and he’s deceiving the public again by ignoring the IG’s finding that opening the Trump/Russia investigation was justified," she tweeted. 
 
 
Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSteyer would have owed M more in taxes under lawmakers' proposal: liberal group Democrats step up pressure over witnesses after Bolton bombshell Fox's Napolitano: There is 'ample and uncontradicted' evidence supporting Trump's removal from office MORE (D-Md.) added that "Barr should stop covering up for Trump and stick with facts." 
 
 
Horowitz released the findings of his nearly two year investigation on Monday, including finding that the FBI's decision to open up the investigation was not driven by political bias. He's scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. 
 
He also concluded the bureau had “an authorized purpose” to launch an investigation to “obtain information about, or to protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.”
 
But Barr, contradicting the IG, said Horowitz's report showed that the FBI opened an "intrusive" investigation "on the thinnest of suspicions," and that there was an “insufficient” basis to justify steps taken in the FBI's investigation. 
 
“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration,” Barr said.