Coons: “[Barr] has been shading things, characterizing things, shifting things in a way that favors the President's narrative, and in a way that has made it harder for the American people to really get the benefit of Robert Mueller's hard work as special counsel.”

Sen. Chris Coons joined CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time Thursday night to discuss Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“My concern all along about AG Barr has been that Donald Trump…was looking for someone to be his loyal counsel, his advocate, rather than the people’s AG. That’s exactly what President Trump has gotten.

“I asked Attorney General Barr, going forward in 2020, should a campaign offer dirt on their campaign by a hostile power, accept it, or should they go to the FBI? And he hesitated. He hemmed and hawed. He said ‘That depends, I’m not sure.’

“[T]here are at least 12 other ongoing investigations in other courts and other jurisdictions that were spun off of the Mueller special counsel investigation. One of my core questions today was whether we can continue to have confidence that Bill Barr will supervise those ongoing investigations in his role as Attorney General in way that really is impartial,” said Coons.

From the interview:

Coons on AG Barr’s hearing:

It’s been a long day indeed, Chris. But it was, I thought, a very revealing hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. My concern all along about Attorney General Bill Barr has been that Donald Trump, our president, nominated him because he was looking for someone to be his loyal counsel, his advocate, rather than the people’s Attorney General. And I think in the questioning before our committee today, we saw that that’s exactly what President Trump has gotten -- someone who has been shading things, characterizing things, shifting things, in a way that favors the President’s narrative, and in a way that has made it harder for the American people to really get the benefit of Robert Mueller’s hard work as special counsel.

Coons on foreign election interference:

Well, I asked a question today that I thought was directly related to our next election, to 2020. There was bipartisan agreement at the beginning of the hearing that, given Volume I of the Mueller Report, which lays out, chapter and verse, how aggressively Russian intelligence officials, Russian intelligence officers from the GRU, broke into and hacked into the DNC’s emails, Hillary Clinton’s emails, shared those with WikiLeaks, tried to help Donald Trump, and then the Trump campaign failed, when offered this help, to notify the FBI.

I asked Attorney General Barr: going forward in 2020, should a campaign offer dirt on their campaign by a hostile power, accept it, or should they go to the FBI? And he hesitated. He hemmed and hawed. He said “That depends, I’m not sure. If it’s a foreign intelligence officer, perhaps.”

Coons on AG Barr:

I think he was trying to shape the question so that it did not implicate the actions of the Trump campaign team in the Trump Tower meeting with Russians who were proffering information, who they didn’t know for sure were from the intelligence service. That’s what I thought he was doing.

Coons on Robert Mueller’s letter to Barr:

I think Robert Mueller’s goal in that letter was to further press Bill Barr, the Attorney General, to release the summaries -- the 10 and 12 page summaries -- of the two volumes of his 400-page report. That’s because if the summary of the second volume had been released to the public 25 days earlier than it ultimately was, it lays out a great deal of the troubling facts about obstruction of justice. It makes it clear that there were 10 different instances in which senior White House officials, or the president himself, directed folks to try and fire Mueller, directed folks to lie, directed folks to create false documents. That would’ve been clear. So that the triumphalist narrative that the President and his defenders took to the press with for three weeks, that he was completely exonerated, couldn’t have been sustained. So I think it’s possible that what Robert Mueller was saying was “Well, you weren’t misleading, you weren’t inaccurate in how you characterized my report, but you weren’t fully forthcoming. And you’re leaving the public with this mistaken impression for more than three weeks, so that it sets in the public’s mind the idea that this report is far more exculpatory than it actually is.”

Coons on ongoing investigations:

I think it would be important for the public to hear that Robert Mueller didn’t exonerate the president, that he conducted a wide-ranging and thorough investigation, and uncovered ample evidence of obstruction of justice, but given the constraints that you just referenced, he left it to Congress to decide what further actions to take with regard to the president. Let me also remind you, Chris, there are at least 12 other ongoing investigations in other courts and other jurisdictions that were spun off of the Mueller special counsel investigation. One of my core questions today was whether we can continue to have confidence that Bill Barr will supervise those ongoing investigations in his role as Attorney General in way that really is impartial.