Sen. Leahy Presses Barr on 2017 Uranium One Comments: It Was ‘Debunked,’ Even on Fox News
During today’s big Senate hearing, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked AG nominee William Barr about comments he made about Hillary Clinton.
Specifically, Leahy brought up comments Barr made to the New York Times back in November 2017, in response to inquiries about President Donald Trump‘s calls for his 2016 opponent to be investigated:
Of 10 former attorneys general contacted Tuesday, only one responded to a question about what they would do in Mr. Sessions’s situation.
“There is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation,” said William P. Barr, who ran the Justice Department under President George Bush. “Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation.”
Mr. Barr said he sees more basis for investigating the uranium deal than any supposed collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia. “To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility,” he said.
Leahy brought up the comment about Uranium One deal and said, “Just about everybody’s debunked the Uranium One controversy. I think probably the nail in the coffin was President Trump’s biggest supporter Fox News debunked it.”
Barr said his point to the Times was that “whatever the standard is for launching an investigation, it should be dealt with evenhandedly.”
“I have no knowledge of the Uranium One, I didn’t particularly think that was necessarily something that should be pursued aggressively,” Barr said. “I was trying to make the point that there was a lot out there.”
The invocation of a Fox News debunking by Leahy is, presumably, a reference to this Shepard Smith segment from November 2017, around the time of the Times article in question.
You can watch above, via C-SPAN 3.
UPDATE –– 5:28 pm ET: New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker shared the text of Barr’s email to them:
Questions have been raised about what Bill Barr told us for a story in 2017. Here is his full email from then responding to our request for comment. We're grateful he replied and hope this clarifies any confusion. pic.twitter.com/xTCsJSpic2
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) January 15, 2019
[image via screengrab]
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