On Barr's motive: "I don't know what his motive would be."
On Barr’s assertion that “spying” occurred:
It was a striking assertion by the Attorney General. I frankly think he should’ve been more careful with his words, because “spying” has some very negative connotations. Ultimately, when Sen. Schatz asked him a follow-up question, he changed it a little bit to “unauthorized surveillance,” but I still think it was a fairly striking allegation for him to weigh in on at today’s hearing.
More on Barr’s “spying” comment:
I think “spying” implies the illicit and inappropriate use of surveillance technology to benefit one political campaign and disadvantage another. That’s how I heard it. That’s why I was so struck by it, and was glad that Sen. Schatz asked a follow-up. But the Attorney General, my understanding is, did not say, “Oh, that’s not what I meant at all.” He merely changed the words a little bit. I do think this is an issue where we’re going to have to follow closely what the Attorney General does, And what he means.
On Barr’s motive:
I don’t know what his motive would be. I have to take him at his word that he is simply concerned about protecting the rule of law, and ensuring there wasn’t unauthorized or inappropriate surveillance of political activity.
But, you know, as I said in today’s hearing, as I’ve said before in his confirmation hearing, the fact that Bill Barr, now Attorney General Barr, chose to send in an unsolicited 18-page memo going against Bob Mueller, Special Counsel Mueller’s theory of obstruction of justice, raised real alarms for me, raised real concerns for me, about how he views the Department of Justice.
Although he is an institutionalist with some close ties to the department, I’m concerned that he act more as the Attorney General of the United States, and less as attorney for the President.
On Barr declining to disagree with the President’s assertion that the Mueller investigation had been a witch hunt:
I think that was an extraordinary answer. I think that was -- an obvious answer would have been that he supported the Mueller investigation, thought that it was necessary to the rule of law, and that transparency was important. He did not say that.
He said “whether or not you view it as a witch hunt depends on where you sit.” That was one of several striking things.
He also, in response to my question about whether or not the President or anyone at the White House had been given a copy of the Mueller report, or briefed on the Mueller report, refused to answer.
Coons questions Barr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuT50oVCyuw
On the NO BAN Act:
Anderson, as you know, most of the time I engage in very pragmatic legislating, very bipartisan legislating. I try to have a Republican cosponsor for all the bills I introduce. This is a bill that I think is more prophetic. It’s about saying what America we believe we should be in, meaning an America where our President does not make campaign promises to ban Muslims or any other specific religious minority from coming to the United States, and then use the power of the presidency to carry out that ban through an executive order. Every Democratic senator who’s running for president is a cosponsor of this bill. We have a very wide number of cosponsors, both in the House and the Senate, but so far only Democrats. So you’re right, it’s dead on arrival at the White House, but it should show clearly how we believe we can keep the country safe, and still respect our most fundamental values of a commitment to religious liberty.