Senator Hirono Accuses Barr of Lying During Blistering Grilling

Senator Hirono Accuses Barr of Lying During Blistering Grilling

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) seemed to want to get into a moral debate with Attorney General William Barr over President Trump’s actions during the Russia investigation. Which is a bit like a deer demanding a debate over the morality of hunting with the guys hunkered down in a blind.

Hirono spent the first few minutes of her allotted time for questioning excoriating Barr for lying to the Ameircan public and calling for him to resign. Then she turned to the question of whether Barr has any kind of a conscience or sense of fairness.

“Do you think all of the things that President Trump did are okay? Are they what the President of the United States should be doing?” Hirono asked. “Do you think it’s okay for a president to fire an FBI director to stop him from investigating links between his campaign and Russia? It may not be a crime, but do you think it’s okay?”

This was where Hirono was really wasting her oxygen. Barr is well known to ascribe to the “unitary executive” theory of presidential power, which gives a president wide latitude to exercise his power how he sees fit. Many of the actions in his career have proven that. One may disagree that the unitary executive is a reasonable or defensible theory, but Barr was not about to debate it in three minutes of questioning in a Senate hearing. Especially not with Hirono interrupting him.

After he dodged, Hirono tried a different version: “Do you think it’s okay, for the president to ask his White House counsel to lie?”

Again, it is not a question of morality. It is a question of power, and Bill Barr after all these years is not going to be publicly shamed into reversing himself and saying a president should be denied the exercise of that power.

After a bit more badgering, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was chairing the hearing, had had all he could stand. When Hirono said, “Please, Mr. Attorney General, give us some credit for knowing what the hell is going on around here,” Graham jumped in.

“Listen, you slandered this man from top to bottom,” he thundered. “If you want more of this, you’re not going to get it,” which presumably meant he was going to not let Hirono continue with her questioning. Though she was already done.

Watch the exchange up top, via C-SPAN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.