- Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
- Sen. Kamala Harris of California questioned Barr over whether anyone in the White House suggested he open an investigation at any point during his tenure.
- Barr repeatedly stumbled in his answers.
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WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr stumbled over repeated questions during a Senate hearing on Wednesday as to whether President Donald Trump or anyone in the White House directed him to investigate certain people.
During a heated line of questioning from Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Barr could not directly answer if he had been pointed toward investigating anyone, whether that came in the form of suggestions or nudging from White House officials.
“Has the president or anyone at the White House asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?” Harris asked Barr.
Barr initially struggled to understand the question and asked Harris to repeat it. “It seems you’d remember something like that and be able to tell us,” she said.
But Barr could not give Harris a definitive answer, instead expressing confusion over the concept of suggesting an investigation versus ordering one outright.
“I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest,'” he said. “I mean there have been discussions of matters out there that they’ve not asked me to open an investigation.”
Harris pressed further, questioning whether starting an investigation had been “inferred” by anyone at the White House, to which Barr said he does not know.
Barr spent the better part of Wednesday taking questions from Republicans and Democrats on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing focused on the conclusion of the special counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr is facing increased scrutiny over his handling of the investigation’s final report, which included a brief summary letter followed by a partially redacted version of the 400-plus page report from Mueller and his team.