Moments after outgoing Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his first public remarks on his Russia investigation, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Mueller's statement "definitely contradicts what the attorney general said when he summarized Mueller's report." Christie wasn't alone, Politico noted. Several top Democrats slammed Attorney General William Barr for "misleading" America and "mischaracterizing" Mueller's findings to help President Trump. Other people were more direct.
"I think he's a liar," Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor who had given Barr the benefit of the doubt, told Brian Williams on MSNBC Wednesday night. Williams showed some back-to-back examples where "Mueller directly contradicted some of Barr's claims."
Barr and Mueller did disagree in several "telling ways," The Washington Post said. On Wednesday, Mueller reiterated that there was "insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy" between the Trump campaign and Russia, while Barr has repeatedly claimed Mueller found "no evidence." Barr said he hoped Mueller wasn't leaving judgment of Trump's actions to Congress, while Mueller strongly hinted he was.
But "perhaps the most significant divergence between Barr and Mueller," Politico says, is over why Mueller chose not to decide if Trump criminally obstructed justice. Mueller said Wednesday that a longstanding Justice Department opinion that presidents can't be charged with federal crimes meant directly accusing Trump of obstruction was "not an option." Last month, Barr insisted Mueller wasn't relying on that opinion. In a joint statement, Mueller's and Barr's offices tried to paper over those differences.
The assertion that "there is no conflict" between Barr's and Mueller's statements "may technically be true," Politico says. But "ironically, what this really does is drive home just how slippery and dishonest Barr was in his wording," says Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic. "What he said is not a lie by the absolute barest of technicalities." Peter Weber
Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced differing opinions on how to approach the Iran nuclear deal when they both spoke at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
Pence criticized European leaders for remaining in the deal, which the U.S. backed out of last year after leading negotiations in 2015 under the Obama administration. "We have the regime in Iran that's breathing out murderous threats, with the same vile anti-Semitic hatred that animated the Nazis in Europe," Pence said, arguing "the Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it."
Merkel, on the other hand, defended the agreement, describing it as an "anchor" that should be used to pressure Iran in other areas. The chancellor expressed concern over Europe's split with the U.S. on the matter, which she said "depresses" her.
Pence also criticized the European response to Venezuela and urged his fellow leaders to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president.
Read more about the implications of the Trump administration's stance on the Iran deal here at The Week. Tim O'Donnell
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine contradicted reports Friday from both his camp and running mate Hillary Clinton's that he'd come around to supporting Clinton's stance against the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment.
Just a few days ago, Bloombergreported that Kaine will support Clinton's plan to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding from being used for abortion, and which Clinton contends is "making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights."
However, when CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked Kaine about that change of heart Friday, he denied it had ever happened. "I have been for the Hyde Amendment, and I have not changed my position on that," said Kaine, a Catholic who has said he's personally opposed to abortion.
So, what gives? A Kaine-Clinton spokesperson's comment to The Wall StreetJournal this week might clear up the seeming contradictions. The spokesperson said that while Kaine is "not personally for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment," he is "committed to carrying out Secretary Clinton's agenda."
It seems the Democratic duo has agreed — to disagree. Becca Stanek