Rep. Chellie Pingree called on Attorney General William Barr to resign Wednesday, and two other members of Maine’s congressional delegation said they were troubled with Barr’s handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, said Barr should resign “for the good of his country” in a statement Wednesday afternoon following the attorney general’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Independent Sen. Angus King said Wednesday evening that he had no position on Barr’s resignation until he could review Barr’s testimony, but said Barr was acting just as King had feared he might when he voted against his confirmation in February.

Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said both the report and Mueller’s letter to Barr were troubling, but noted the “bottom line” for national leaders should be “that a foreign adversary tried to interfere in our election system and may do so again if elected officials do not take action.”

Democratic leaders contend that Barr has misled Congress on a number of fronts, including a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump administration’s dealings with Russia and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller, in a letter he wrote in March that was leaked to the media this week, criticized Barr’s summary, saying it caused “public confusion about critical aspects of the result of our investigation.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine

“Today, in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General William Barr demonstrated once again that his loyalty is to protecting President Trump from oversight and accountability,” Pingree said in a statement. “Members of the panel asked concise, direct questions about Mr. Barr’s treatment of the Mueller Report and probe. In response, Barr obfuscated, filibustered, evaded or outright lied about his actions. That he has worked to cover up Mr. Mueller’s findings to shield President Trump is no longer in any question. … Mr. Barr is not impartial and for the good of his country he should step down from his post.”

King had read Mueller’s letter to Barr, but had not yet watched Barr’s testimony when he talked to the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday evening. But the letter made it clear that Barr has not told Congress the full truth about the Mueller investigation, King said.

“I voted against Mr. Barr at his confirmation, and my lack of confidence in him has been verified,” King said. “This is exactly what I was concerned about: that he would be more the president’s lawyer than the people’s lawyer.”

Before the full Mueller report was released, Barr told Congress that no one from the Mueller team was dissatisfied with Barr’s four-page characterization of the investigation, King noted. But the Mueller letter leaked this week made it clear that Mueller himself had expressed his concerns to Barr, both in writing and by phone.

“That is what I would call legalistic hair-splitting of the most creative kind,” King said. “I don’t know whether it constitutes a lie, but it was certainly not being very forthcoming. … All in all, a sorry performance by the alleged attorney general.”

Golden also had not yet watched Barr’s testimony, but in a statement Wednesday the state’s junior congressman said Americans should be relieved the Mueller report found no evidence of direct coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. But the lack of leadership at the White House and a failure to put the country before politics was troubling, he said.

“This pattern of politicizing investigation materials should concern all of us,” Golden said.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the spat between Barr and Mueller highlights why the special counsel’s full report should be made available to the public.

“The disagreement between Attorney General Barr and Special Counsel Mueller over the release of the executive summaries underscore why the release of the full report was so essential,” Collins said in an email Wednesday night. “That’s why I had strongly supported – and repeatedly called for – making the report available to the public as soon as possible, while accommodating national security considerations.”

Collins said she thought it would be helpful if Mueller also testified before Congress, “to give Congress and the American people another opportunity to better understand the facts and conclusions that he reached during his investigation,” she said.

Staff Writer Penelope Overton contributed to this report.


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