At a Q&A Tuesday morning at the Council on Foreign Relations, House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff said that Attorney General Bill Barr's wide definition of presidential authority essential means he believes the president is "above the law."
"We might not know, unless a whistleblower steps forward, whether Bill Barr is abusing his authority even beyond fundamental abuse by trying to exonerate the President on obstruction of justice," Schiff said. "And so we find ourselves, I think for the first time, with an attorney general who really is the President's defense lawyer and spokesperson."
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: But I do want to, before we move on from the subject of Barr and contempt, talk about the most grave concern I have about Bill Barr. And that is, during his Senate testimony he opined that the President could have made the Mueller investigation go away any time he wanted because he thought it was unfair. That's his view of the unitary executive. Under that view, the president is truly above the law. Because what president would not think of an investigation against him or her was unfair? It also means that the president can make go away any of the investigations that were farmed out to any of the other elements of the Department of Justice.
And because they're stonewalling us on just about everything, it also means that we might not know, unless a whistleblower steps forward, whether Bill Barr is abusing his authority even beyond fundamental abuse by trying to exonerate the President on obstruction of justice. And so we find ourselves, I think for the first time, with an attorney general who really is the President's defense lawyer and spokesperson, and who is quite good at it and has the veneer of respectability to camouflage what he's doing.
He is not the sophist that Giuliani is. He is much more dangerous. And I think he's the second most dangerous man in the country for that reason.
When you listen to his interviews and the way he dissembles, when he was asked, even on FOX News, about, "Didn't Don McGahn call for Mueller to be fired?" His answer was, "No, he called for him to be removed." As if that's a distinction that really makes a difference here.
When he was asked, "You said that the president fully cooperated, but the president wouldn't even sit for an interview?" He said, "No, I said the White House fully cooperated."
When you have an attorney general willing to dissemble that way, when you have an attorney general --I hesitate to use this word but no other seems to apply here-- who lies to Congress as he did when Charlie Crist asked him about whether he was aware of these reservations that have been reported about the Mueller team and he said he had not. It is a very dangerous situation and as someone who came out of that department and venerates that department, to think it is being led by someone this way breaks my heart.