Former Attorney General Bill Barr defended his handling of the Mueller report, which investigated possible collusion between President Trump and Russia in the 2016 election, on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday.
HBO comedian Bill Maher called Barr “shady” for allegedly mischaracterizing the report after former FBI director Robert Mueller released his findings from the investigation on Russian collusion. The former attorney general said in 2019 that there was no evidence that former President Donald Trump committed “obstruction of justice.”
“That’s not what Mueller said,” Maher told Barr. “He said, ‘if we had confidence, that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would have so stated.’ I feel like that was shady, Bill. I just had to get it off my chest.”
“On March 5, when he told me what he was doing, I said you have to give me a report that I can make public quickly. It has to be redacted,” Barr said. “Because the day you give me the report, everyone’s gonna be speculating—”
“I heard he did you give that,” Maher interjected.
“No, he did not,” the former attorney general said.
Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017 by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the alleged collusion shortly after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey. Following a two-year investigation, Mueller released a report in 2019 concluding that the Trump campaign never colluded with Russia.
Mueller gave Barr access to the un-redacted report that could not be released to the public for several weeks. He explained to Maher that he had to address the public immediately due to media frenzy over allegations that Trump might be arrested and charged for obstruction of justice for allegedly colluding with Russia in 2016. (RELATED: ‘He Made Some Very Serious Errors’: Bill Barr Blasts Robert Mueller Over Russia Probe)
Upon the report’s release, Barr and Rosenstein said there were not “sufficient” findings to merit prosecuting the former president for obstruction of justice, CBS News reported. Barr emphasized Mueller’s finding that the report does “not exonerate” Trump.
“Well you framed it as if he were innocent and everything else argued against that,” Maher said.
“No, I didn’t,” the former attorney general pushed back.
“And he said we can’t come to the conclusion that he didn’t obstruct justice and you said he didn’t obstruct justice,” Maher said.
Barr said he reiterated Mueller’s conclusion that Trump was not exonerated from possible criminal wrongdoing.