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

Senate Democrats ripped Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump: Washington/Lincoln ticket would have had hard time beating me before pandemic Trump says Barr 'never' told him he thought he'd lose election Speeches aren't enough: Biden must ditch bipartisanship, endorse ending filibuster 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 WhitehouseKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers blast FBI's Kavanaugh investigation as 'sham' New York gun rights case before Supreme Court with massive consequences  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 SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.), asked about prosecutor John DurhamJohn DurhamGarland stresses independence in first speech at DOJ Senate votes to confirm Garland as attorney general Special counsel investigating Russia probe to retire as US attorney 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 TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix 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. 
  
Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats criticize FBI's handling of tip line in Kavanaugh investigation Biden's misinformation crackdown spotlights partisan divide on content reform Number of nonwhite Democratic Senate staffers ticks up from 2020 MORE (D-Hawaii)—who like Whitehouse is a member of the Judiciary Committee where Horowitz will testify on Wednesday—said Barr's "first instinct is to protect" Trump. 

"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 HollenCivil rights activist Gloria Richardson dies Senate Democrats hit speedbumps with big spending plans Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer 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.