WASHINGTON – During his Senate confirmation hearing, Attorney General Barr told U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that a campaign should contact the FBI if given foreign opponent research. A transcript of their exchange is below. Video and audio of the exchange available here
Senator Coons: Let me get to a question, if I could. Going forward, what if a foreign adversary, let’s now say North Korea, offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020? Do you agree with me that the candidate should immediately contact the FBI?
Attorney General Barr: A foreign government? A foreign intelligence service?
Coons: A representative of a foreign government says, “we have dirt on your opponent,” should they say, “I love it, let’s meet,” or should they contact the FBI?
Barr: If a foreign intelligence service does, yes.
Coons: Okay, here’s my core concern. The President ordered the White House Counsel to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired. He fabricated evidence to cover it up, and whether or not you could make a criminal charge of this, it is unacceptable, and everyone who said we didn’t have to worry about President Trump firing the Special Counsel was flat-out wrong. The Russians offered the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign never reported that to the FBI. Instead, they tried to conceal the meeting and mislead the American people. And I think we have to work on a bipartisan basis going forward to protect our elections from a repeat of this, and we need your leadership and the President’s. You somehow concluded the President didn’t obstruct justice and you announced that you had cleared the President twenty-five days before the public could read the Mueller report for themselves. I think it’s no wonder Special Counsel Mueller thought your four-page letter created public confusion about critical aspects of the results of the investigation, and that that threatened to undermine the central purpose for which he was appointed. I think we need to hear from Special Counsel Mueller. I think we need to hear from Don McGahn. And I think we need to review how we are going to handle going forward the fact that you are supervising twelve ongoing cases that came out of the Mueller Investigation and have been referred. This body has a central role in oversight that I believe we need to exercise given your recent record. Thank you.