Giuliani calls Mueller's letter to AG Barr 'very odd'

"If he didn't want confusion, he should have made a decision" on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, Giuliani tells NBC News.
Image: Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, at a conference in Washington in November 2016.Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

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By Peter Alexander and Alex Johnson

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Tuesday night that he found it "very odd" that special counsel Robert Mueller would object to Attorney General William Barr's characterization of the special counsel's report on alleged foreign interference in the 2016 election.

In a letter that was disclosed Tuesday and in a telephone call later, Mueller objected to Barr's four-page description last month of his investigation, saying it had caused public confusion.

Giuliani said in an interview with NBC News that he hadn't been aware of Mueller's letter before Tuesday's reports and that he didn't understand what Mueller was taking exception to, calling it "very odd."

Noting that Mueller declined to conclude whether the president had obstructed justice, Giuliani said: "If he didn't want confusion, he should have made a decision. He was made special counsel to make decisions, and the fact he didn't says to me (that Trump) was innocent."

Giuliani contended that "there was no prosecutable obstruction case because there was no underlying crime and no obstruction."

Barr is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, but he has threatened not to appear because of concerns about the hearing's format, a senior Democratic aide on the committee told NBC News this week.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday night that Barr could face impeachment proceedings.

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"I actually think he should face impeachment if he's going to just say, 'I'm not going to follow the law, I'm not going to follow Congress,'" Swalwell said on MSNBC's "Hardball."

"What do you do when you have an enabler like this who just enabled the president's worst instincts?" he asked, adding: "They have to be held accountable, and you have to speak their language, as well. That's the only thing they understand."

The committee's chairman, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement that he had demanded a copy of Mueller's letter by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"The Attorney General should not have taken it upon himself to describe the special counsel's findings in a light more favorable to the President," Nadler said. "It was only a matter of time before the facts caught up to him."

First, Barr is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a longtime member and former chairman of the committee, said in an interview with the New York newspaper Newsday that Barr was acting like Trump's personal lawyer, not the nation's lawyer. He promised to "ask him questions and give him a chance to show some independence."

"We'll see if he does," Leahy said.

Trump is scheduled to meet with members of Congress later Wednesday at the White House.

Other Democrats also reacted sharply to the disclosure of Mueller's letter to Barr.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on the Justice Department to release Mueller's full report, along with all supporting documentation.

"Barr must stop standing in the way," Pelosi said on Twitter.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who is running for president, went further, saying on Twitter that "Barr willfully misled the American people to cover up attempted crimes by Donald Trump."

Barr "should resign his position or face an impeachment inquiry immediately," Castro said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, tweeted: "No one can place any reliance on what Barr says. We need to hear from Mueller himself."

A spokesperson for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, however, said recent developments "give us more reason than ever to have confidence in the attorney general by providing insight into how the attorney general and the special counsel successfully collaborated to navigate a very difficult and historically momentous situation."

"House Democrats have another opportunity to put partisan politics aside and recognize Attorney General Barr has conducted himself in an exemplary manner," the spokesperson said.

Alex Moe contributed.