William Barr; Adam Schiff (Getty/AP/Salon)

Rep. Adam Schiff labels Attorney General William Barr "the second most dangerous man in the country"

The House of Representatives is set to vote June 11 on whether to hold Barr in contempt of Congress


Shira Tarlo
June 5, 2019 2:14PM (UTC)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff took aim at Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, labeling the nation's top law enforcement officer the "second most dangerous man in the country."

"We find ourselves, I think for the first time, with an attorney general who really is the president's defense lawyer and spokesperson, who's quite good at it and has the veneer of respectability to camouflage what he's doing," the California Democrat said, referring to Barr, during remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

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A frequent critic of President Donald Trump, the congressman revealed he was particularly concerned about the attorney general's assertion that Trump could have ended special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election at any time, which he claimed put the president "truly above the law."

Schiff also alleged that Barr was "willing to dissemble" and lie to Congress, asserting that the way the attorney general is leading the Department of Justice is "profoundly concerning for the country."

He argued that Barr is more of a threat than the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has emerged as Trump's most loyal and obedient attack dog in his relentless attempts to defend the president on national television.

"He is not the sophist that Giuliani is," Schiff said. "He's much more dangerous."

The lawmaker, however, did not reveal who he believes is the most dangerous man in the country.

Schiff's remarks Tuesday echoed similar statements he made last month in a USA Today op-ed, in which he wrote that Barr was "grossly unfit for office" and called for his resignation.

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At the time, the congressman alleged that Barr "mislead the country" about the findings of Mueller's investigation, especially with his four-page summary of the special counsel's conclusions. He also claimed that Barr had "lied to Congress" about when he knew of Mueller's reactions to that summary. (Mueller sent Barr a letter shortly after the attorney general's summary was released, in which he admitted that Barr's initial summary "did not fully capture the context, nature and substance" of the special counsel's investigation and its conclusions.)

The House of Representatives is set to vote June 11 on whether to hold the attorney general and White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas. The resolution would then move to civil court, where Democrats hope they can convince a judge to compel the two men to comply with their subpoenas.

Barr failed to comply with a subpoena to provide lawmakers with an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference, while McGahn defied a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Additionally, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings announced Monday that his panel is weighing holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for ignoring congressional subpoenas seeking information about the White House's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

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The Maryland Democrat indicated he would consider postponing the contempt votes, which have not yet been scheduled, if Barr and Ross turn over the requested documents to the committee by Thursday.


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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