AG Nominee Barr Was Asked if President Suborning Perjury Would Be Obstruction of Justice. Watch His Response.


On MSNBC on Thursday night, Lawrence O’Donnell covered the huge Buzzfeed news scoop, which reported that according to their sources, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was directed by Donald Trump to lie under oath. O’Donnell played a related clip from the William Barr confirmation hearings this week pertaining to the exact question of the evening.

That question: If the story is accurate, and if Cohen’s allegation is proved true, would such an action by the president constitute obstruction of justice?

O’Donnell first spoke to his guest, attorney Jill Wine-Banks, asking her about the legal situation.

“He took an oath. They swore him,” said O’Donnell of Cohen. “Eric Swalwell was there. He was asking the questions. They swore him in.”

He posed several questions in short order. “What do you see — what’s the legal, what’s the legal checklist here for Michael Cohen and for the president? Is Michael Cohen — if this is proven true — guilty of lying to Congress as a crime? Is he guilty of perjury as a crime? Is the president of the United States guilty of suborning perjury if this report is true?”

“Yes, yes, and yes. Absolutely,” said Wine-Banks.

It was after her answer that O’Donnell was able to play the clip, which featured Sen. Amy Klobuchar asking a series of very specific questions on this exact topic, and William Barr responding.

Here is a transcript of those questions and answers:

Klobuchar: The president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?
Barr: That — yes.
Klobuchar: Okay.
Barr: Any — well, you know, any person who persuades another — yeah.
Klobuchar: Okay. You also said that a president or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?
Barr: Yes.
Klobuchar: Okay. And on page two, you said that a president deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an instruction. Is that correct?
Barr: Yes.
Klobuchar: Okay. And so what if a president told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon?
Barr: You know, I — I’d have to know the specific. I’d have to know the specific facts.
Klobuchar: Okay. And you wrote on page ONE that if a president knowingly destroys or alters evidence, that would be obstruction.
Barr: Yes.
Klobuchar: Okay. So what if a president drafted a misleading statement to conceal the purpose of a meeting? Would that be obstruction?
Barr: Again, you know, I’d have to know the — I’d have to know the specifics.

Trump’s current attorney Rudy Giuliani dismissed the story as simply deceit on Michael Cohen’s part shortly after Buzzfeed published. Democrats, on the other hand, latched on hard.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of MSNBC.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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