Joe Biden

2020 Dem Hopefuls Call for Mueller Public Testimony, Decry AG Barr's Political Spin

The attorney general was accused by top Democrats of acting as the president's publicist or personal attorney

Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination are calling on the Justice Department to release an unredacted version of Robert Mueller's 448-page report and for the special counsel to testify publicly on his findings.

There were also calls for the resignation of Attorney General William Barr after his pre-release news conference, which they referred to as a political "farce" and a "disgrace." Barr was accused by top Democrats of acting as the president's publicist or personal attorney, rather than the top official in the Justice Department.

"This is a disgrace," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. "The American people deserve answers — and Special Counsel Robert Mueller should testify publicly before Congress." She added a hashtag: #ReleaseTheFullReport.

Warren attached page 179 of the report to her tweet, which was heavily redacted for "personal privacy." 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted a copy of page 30, which had been fully redacted, with the caption, "Really?"

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election included instances of potential obstruction by President Donald Trump. Here is a rundown of the ten mentioned in the report.

Gillibrand demanded Congress receive "the full, unredacted Mueller report."

"The American people have the right to know the facts — without the spin," she said.

"First Page of Mueller report says that Russian government interfered in 2016 presidential election 'in sweeping and systematic fashion,'" Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., tweeted. Now that the report has been made public, she said, the public "should hear from Robert Mueller himself."

"Our democracy demands it," Klobuchar said.

President Donald Trump celebrated the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russia collusion today, but Democrats say this story isn't over and are already talking about their next step. The report, which totals over 400 pages, neither condemns nor exonerates the president.

Before the report was released, the 2020 contenders lambasted Barr’s press conference Thursday, saying Barr behaved like a spokesperson for the president.

“It's a disgrace to see an Attorney General acting as if he's the personal attorney and publicist for the President of the United States,” Warren tweeted.

Gillibrand said in a statement that the news conference was “an embarrassing display of propaganda on behalf of President Trump.” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D.-Calif., joined in criticizing Barr’s “spin.”

“Yet again Attorney General Barr has tried to spin the Mueller report before providing the actual report or the evidence underlying it,” Booker tweeted. “This is undermining the independence of this entire process.”

Swalwell later called for Barr's resignation in a tweet and circulated a petition to that end, saying the attorney general acted as President Donald Trump's "defense attorney."

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the early Democratic front-runner for the 2020 nomination, weighed in, calling on Trump and Republican leaders to "stop obstructing the necessary work to protect our democracy."

"It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation," Sanders tweeted. "Congress must continue its investigation into Trump's conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election."

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election included instances of potential obstruction by President Donald Trump. Here is a rundown of the ten mentioned in the report.

The report’s redactions were a cause of concern among 2020 candidates, who said the redacted version of the report was not enough for Congress to “conduct meaningful oversight” over the investigation into Russian interference and possible ties to the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Other presidential primary contenders, including Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and even Republican hopeful Bill Weld, joined in calling for Barr to resign and for Mueller to testify on his team's findings.

“It is essential that Special Counsel Bob Mueller come before Congress and address the validity of his report that has been redacted and released," Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, tweeted.

Attorney General William Barr addressed the media prior to his department’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Congress.

On MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Buttigieg called the attorney general's news conference “really disturbing.”

“If I were advising a president at a moment like this, I would advise being as transparent as you can,” he said. “And instead it sounds like what they want to do is describe this thing and then hand it over.”

Harris said Barr was acting "like Trump’s defense attorney" and called his press conference "a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda."

"Americans deserve the unvarnished truth," Harris tweeted. "We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress."

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who was canvassing in New Hampshire, was more tight-lipped. As of Thursday mid-afternoon, he had not tweeted about Barr or the Mueller report, and when a reporter asked the candidate to comment, he responded that he didn't have "enough information to share."

"But I'm glad that [the report]'s being released,” he said.

Who’s Running for President in 2020?

The race for the 2020 presidential election is underway, and the field of Democratic candidates is packed. Those who have announced presidential bids include a vice president, senators, House members and three mayors. As for the GOP, a single Republican has announced his bid to challenge President Donald Trump for the party nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran for vice president (and lost) in 2016 on the Libertarian party ticket.

Click the photos to learn more

Updated Nov. 20, 2019
Note: Incorrect information about Michael Bennet’s cancer diagnosis and titles for Joe Sestak and William Weld have been revised on July 29, 2019, 3:17 p.m. ET.
Credit: Jo Bruni, Emma Barnett, Asher Klein, Dan Macht, Kelly Zegers / NBC;  Photos: Getty Images

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