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

Senate Democrats ripped Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week 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 WhitehouseDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list Key Democrat accuses Labor head of 'misleading' testimony on jobless benefits 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 SchumerPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday MORE (D-N.Y.), asked about prosecutor John DurhamJohn DurhamTrump says Obama may have committed treason The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After rough week, can Trump bounce back? Barr: 'Developments' likely in Durham investigation this summer 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 TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address 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 HollenSenate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law House passes bill to sanction Chinese banks over Hong Kong security law D.C.-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated 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.