Attorney General William Barr had a longwinded and convoluted defense of President Trump Wednesday against obstruction claims related to his public attacks on Michael Cohen’s family and his praise for Paul Manafort for “refusing to break.”
In response to questions from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Barr bear hugged Trump’s incorrect definition of “flipping” and suggested that if Trump believes it means “succumbing to pressure” and lying, he didn’t obstruct justice.
“That is not obstruction because the President’s — the evidence, I think what the President’s lawyers would say, if this were ever actually joined, is that the President’s statements about flipping are quite clear and express and uniformly the same, which is by flipping he meant succumbing to pressure on unrelated cases to lie and compose in order to get lenient treatment. That is not — it’s a discouraging flipping in that sense, it’s not obstruction.”
After Cohen agreed to cooperate with the government in exchange for a lighter sentence for committing several types of financial crimes, Trump immediately began bashing his former lawyer and fixer on Twitter. The most notable attacks centered on suggestions that Cohen’s father-in-law had committed crimes.
“Do you consider that evidence to be an attempt to convince a witness to change testimony?” Klobuchar (D-MN) asked.
“No, I don’t think that could pass muster, those public statements he was making could pass muster as subornation of proof,” Barr said.
Trump’s personal lawyers also privately told Manafort during the investigation that he would be “taken care of,” according to Mueller’s report. In public Trump also called Manafort brave for “refusing to break.”
Barr said all three instances would not be “sufficient to establish” any of the three elements needed to prove obstruction.
Barr defends Trump's praise of Manafort for not "flipping" pic.twitter.com/XAQaPRM4nS
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 1, 2019