New England's mostly Democratic Congressional delegation was swift and stern in its reaction to the way the Mueller report was released by Attorney General William Barr on Thursday.
Barr held a press conference Thursday morning prior to the report's release in which he defended President Donald Trump and said nothing he did rose to the level of an "obstruction-of-justice offense."
"The AG is supposed to serve as the country’s top law enforcement officer – someone who stands up for the rule of law & defends the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, said on Twitter. "William Barr is standing up for only one person: the President of the United States."
"Yes, the WH is spinning the Mueller report. Yes, Barr is acting like Trump's personal lawyer. Yes, it's disgraceful," Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey added. "But we also must stay focused on the larger threat: Russia is going to keep trying to influence our elections, Trump or no Trump. And we need a plan to stop it."
Another possible 2020 presidential contender, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, also focused on the way the report was released, specifically Barr's preemptive press conference.
"The Attorney General shouldn't be acting as press secretary for the President of the United States," he said.
"Sad day for DOJ—diminished by an AG who acts like the President’s lawyer not the people's. He should stand for the rule of law, not the rule of Trump," added Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
"It is now clear that Attorney General Barr is not America’s Attorney General and Chief Law Enforcement Officer, but the President’s personal attorney and partisan attack dog," Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said. "He has lost the trust and confidence of the American people. Shame on him. What a disgrace."
"Barr's press conference was a blatant attempt to spin a report no one has read. Our democracy depends on transparency. The American people deserve the full report so they can interpret the findings for themselves," Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said.
"Barr's attempt to make excuses for the President was an irresponsible precursor to report's actual release," Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire added. "Let's see the full report so we can make responsible conclusions about Mueller's work and how to proceed, not have them spoon-fed to us by a biased AG."
The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the Mueller report online Thursday morning, 90 minutes after Barr offered his final assessment of the findings.
"I will withhold my judgment on the Mueller report until I’ve been able to review the document – but the pointed political tone of today’s press conference did not match the transparent, objective approach needed to restore the American people's faith in our justice system," said Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said she will not be commenting on the 400-page report until she has carefully reviewed it. But she said the thought Barr provided "a straightforward explanation" for the basis of the report's redactions.
"Special Counsel Mueller needs to come before Congress and testify on his report," Democratic Rep. John Larson of Connecticut said. "Americans need Mueller’s account on the record, and his analysis of the report and the conclusions that were reached, not just Attorney General Barr’s narrative."
Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, also a Democrat, said she is "eagerly awaiting the full Mueller report" and her constituents deserve more than just a summary of the investigation.
"Clean and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and we must do everything in our power to protect that process and be transparent," she said.
"Like my constituents – and most of the country – I’m still wondering what’s in the #MuellerReport and wondering why Attorney General Barr thought it was appropriate to share an advance copy with the White House and not Congress," Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island said. "I look forward to reading the redacted report."