Napolitano: Barr ‘splitting hairs’ with response to question during testimony about Mueller’s concerns

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A line of questioning between Sen. Patrick Leahy and William Barr on Wednesday over past statements the attorney general made regarding the Mueller report shows exactly why House lawmakers want to bring in their own legal staff to interrogate Barr, Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano said.

During an April 9 congressional hearing, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., had asked Barr whether he knew what prompted media reports that Mueller’s prosecutors were frustrated with his initial summary of the Special Counsel’s findings. Barr said he did not.

However, last night, the Washington Post reported that Mueller contacted Barr, both in a letter dated March 27 and in a phone call, to express concerns after Barr released his summary that month.

Leahy, D-Vt., on Wednesday then asked Barr: “Why did you say you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony, Mr. Mueller had expressed concerns to you?”

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The AG answered: “Well I answered a question and the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. I don’t know what that refers to at all. I talk directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his own team.”

Napolitano told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith: “Bob Mueller is a member of his own team and I think the attorney general was splitting hairs there.

“In terms of Sen. Leahy’s question, this is why the House of Representatives wants its professional legal staff to question the attorney general tomorrow,” Napolitano added. “Because politicians don’t always know how to ask questions and they don’t always know how to box in the answerer and prevent him from giving an answer that’s not directly responsive to the question.”

Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (AP)

Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (AP)

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As of this afternoon, it’s still unclear whether Barr will appear in front of the House tomorrow amid an ongoing dispute over who gets to ask the questions.

“As I understand that there are these negotiations are going on even as we speak over this very issue,” Napolitano said. “Can the legal staff who know how to ask questions interrogate the attorney general in addition to the politicians who don’t know how to ask questions?”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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