Attorney General William Barr’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday rankled numerous Democratic lawmakers, even some of those who voted to confirm him.
Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama, two of the three Democratic senators who supported Barr during his confirmation hearing in February, publicly expressed frustration over his answers to the intensive round of questioning on Wednesday, according to a Politico report.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the third Democratic senator, asked Barr for a meeting, Politico reported.
Jones said he was “greatly, greatly disappointed” in what he witnessed and expressed his concern over Barr’s expected role as an impartial law-enforcement officer, according to Politico.
“I also thought he would bring this institutional stability to the Department of Justice. And not be the president’s personal lawyer,” Jones said. “And he seems like he is moving and has moved toward a less independent role.”
Jones reportedly said he was “getting close” to regretting his confirmation vote.
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Manchin said he would “absolutely have buyer’s remorse” if Barr is unable to answer lingering concerns.
“It’s troubling, absolutely,” Manchin said. “The difference between the interpretation between what Mueller really meant and what he intended. And he thought he didn’t present it properly,” Manchin said, apparently describing Mueller’s letter to Barr in which the special counsel objected to the attorney general’s summary of his Russia report.
Barr testified for roughly five hours to explain the rationale behind the Justice Department’s letter summarizing Mueller’s report. Barr faced intense scrutiny following his letter, particularly after he preemptively concluded that President Donald Trump was exonerated and did not obstruct justice.
Members of the committee; however, honed in on another revelation that surfaced the shortly before Barr’s testimony. On Tuesday night, multiple news companies published portions of a letter from Mueller that expressed his discontent with Barr’s characterization of its Russia investigation.
In his letter, Mueller wrote that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” according to The Washington Post.
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” the letter said, according to The Post. “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
Following the hearing, Barr walked back his agreement to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify. A Justice Department spokesman cited “unprecedented and unnecessary” conditions placed on Barr’s scheduled testimony from Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman.
Manchin, Jones, and Sinema’s office did not respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment on Wednesday afternoon.