Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and prospective Democratic candidate for president in 2020 — says it is “very difficult to imagine” she will vote to confirm nominee William Barr as attorney general in light of his refusal to commit to releasing special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.
“I have some very serious concerns,” Klobuchar said when asked about Barr during an interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”
While saying she still wants to finish reviewing the transcript of this week’s confirmation hearing before making a final decision, she criticized the nominee for his equivocation during this week’s confirmation hearing on two key issues relating to the Russia probe.
“He wouldn’t say he would follow the ethics advice of career lawyers in the department when it came to recusal regarding the Russia investigation, and also he didn’t 100 percent commit — not even 80 percent commit — to making the report public,” Klobuchar said.
Those factors, plus his views on immigration — which she said were “hook, line and sinker” in line with President Trump — have all but persuaded her to oppose Barr’s confirmation. “It’s very difficult for me to imagine voting for him,” she said.
Klobuchar’s role in Barr’s confirmation hearing has taken on new significance in light of a Thursday night report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unidentified law enforcement sources, that Trump directed his then longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News
During the confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Klobuchar asked Barr directly: “A president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction,” Klobuchar said. “Is that right?”
“Yes,” Barr testified.
“You also said that a president — or any person — convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction,” Klobuchar asked. “Is that right?”
“Yes,” Barr said.
Klobuchar’s all-but-announced opposition almost certainly won’t affect the final outcome given that Republicans, who appear almost entirely united behind Barr, maintain a solid 53-47 control of the Senate. But her comments do reflect the impact of 2020 presidential politics on the confirmation debate.
A Midwestern moderate who has prided herself on her ability to work across party lines, Klobuchar has moved steadily closer to announcing a bid for the presidency; this week, she declared that she had gotten approval from her family to make the run.
But to be competitive in an extremely crowded field, Klobuchar would almost certainly have her to bolster her credentials with the progressive base of her party, where maximum resistance to Trump is prized above all else. Moreover, one of Klobuchar’s prospective rivals — Sen. Kamala Harris, also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — already declared her opposition to the Barr confirmation.
Klobuchar says she hopes to sell her image as a compromise-crafter — and “the fact that I’m good at it” — as a “tool to get to an end” that will advance progressive goals while also serving as an antidote to Trump.
“What Americans are looking for is someone who will get things done, who will tell them the truth … and one of the ways you get results — and you bring down pharmaceutical prices, and you do something substantive about immigration reform and infrastructure and rural broadband — is by working with people and not sending out tweets attacking them,” she said.
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