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Attorney General Barr ‘lost most of his reputation,’ Jim Comey says



Former FBI director James Comey criticized Attorney General William Barr’s conduct during the tumultuous weeks following the release of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.

Speaking at a CNN town hall on Thursday, Comey explained that he initially believed Barr deserved the benefit of the doubt following the conclusion of Mueller’s Russia probe. Comey referred to Barr’s tenure as the Attorney General during the President George H.W. Bush’s administration in 1991, where he was unanimously approved by a voice vote in the Democratic-led Senate.

“I said that because I think his career had earned that,” Comey said of his previous comments on Thursday. “And so I tried to withhold judgment.”

When Barr released a “principal conclusions” summary of the Mueller report in late March, many Democrats believed the attorney general mischaracterized Mueller’s findings and was overly generous of President Donald Trump’s conduct regarding the question of potential obstruction of justice.

Read more: ‘ There’s no sugarcoating this’: Democrats tell Attorney General William Barr to resign after damning report

The outrage over Barr’s behavior grew when Mueller was discovered to have written a letter to the Justice Department over concerns of “public confusion” about the nature of his report caused by Barr’s summar. The special counsel’s letter said Barr’s conclusions “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller report.

Barr’s testimony on the Mueller report before the Senate Judiciary Committee bristled some Democrats, many of whom have called for his resignation.

Amid the backlash against Barr, Comey’s view of the attorney general had also shifted.

“I think he acted in a way that is less than honorable in the way he described it in writing and … during [the] press conference,” Comey said of Barr, adding that the attorney general “continues to talk as if he is the president’s lawyer.”

“That is not the attorney general’s job,” Comey said. “It’s a political appointment by the president, but you lead an institution that belongs to the American people and not the president.”

“He’s an accomplished and very smart person who had nothing to lose in taking this job but his reputation,” Comey said. “It doesn’t make me happy to say this, but I think he has lost most of his reputation with the way he has conducted himself.”

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a procedural vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. The decision came after the Justice Department failed to release a full, unredacted version of Mueller’s report.

Trump reacted on Twitter following Comey’s town hall: “James Comey is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history,” Trump tweeted.

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