During a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General William Barr claimed that it’s “not a crime” for President Donald Trump to order an aide to lie on his behalf, The Hill reports. Barr also asserted that ordering someone to fire the special counsel is different from removing him because of a conflicting interest.
During the hearing, ranking member and California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein questioned Barr about the obstruction of justice allegations against Trump.
Referencing an incident from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in which former White House counsel Don McGahn was involved, Feinstein said, "You still have a situation where a president essentially tries to change the lawyer's account in order to prevent further criticism of himself.”
Barr responded, “Well that’s not a crime.”
"So you can, in this situation, instruct someone to lie?" asked Feinstein.
Barr continued that in order for Trump’s actions to be deemed obstruction, the president must be "impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding.” He argued that McGahn took notes of his conversation with Trump, in which the president asked McGahn to remove the special counsel, to stress that the president did not explicitly ask that the special counsel was “fired.”
"There is a distinction between saying to someone 'go fire him, go fire Mueller,' and saying 'have him removed based on conflict,'" Barr said. "They have different results."
He claimed that in the latter incident, a different special counsel would be chosen to lead the investigation.
But Barr did not address concerns about whether Trump’s attempts to remove Mueller, regardless of whether it was through being fired or replaced, was motivated by the intention of interfering with the investigation and swaying its results.