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2020 Democratic candidates call for Barr to resign after Mueller report hearing

Sen. Bennet calls on Barr to resign
Sen. Michael Bennet calls on Barr to resign 08:02

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, the latest candidate to join the Democratic presidential field, joined other 2020 contenders in calling for Attorney General William Barr to step down over his conduct in office, accusing him of "lying to Congress." 

"I agree he should resign," Bennet told CBSN's Vladimir Duthiers on Thursday.

Barr "mischaracterized the Mueller report," Bennet said. He later added, "When the attorney general put his little summary sheet on top of the report, he lied about what was in Mueller's report." Bennet appeared on CBSN soon after announcing his presidential bid on "CBS This Morning." 

"To see the attorney general of the United States behave not like the leader of the Justice Department but like the president's criminal defense lawyer is shameful," Bennet said. He also blasted Barr for "the fact that he's lying to Congress and unwilling to go to the House to have a hearing."

On Wednesday, several Senate Democrats running for president wasted little time before calling for Barr to resign after his hearing about the Mueller report. Barr often clashed with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as they criticized his conduct and handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's findings.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than half of the 2020 Democratic candidates had issued statements saying Barr should leave.

Here's what they said:

Joe Biden

"I think he has lost the confidence of the American people — I think he should," Biden said when asked whether Barr should resign. The former vice president was leaving a rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator, who questioned Barr on the Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter: "Attorney General Barr answers to the American people — not to President Trump — and over the past 24 hours it's become clear that he lied to us and mishandled the Mueller Report. He needs to step down."

Julián Castro

"Attorney General Barr willfully misled the American people to cover up attempted crimes by Donald Trump. He should resign his position or face an impeachment inquiry immediately," the former HUD secretary said on Twitter.

Kirsten Gillibrand

The New York senator said, "Attorney General Barr needs to resign. Today, he's proven once again that he's more interested in protecting the president than working for the American people. We can't trust him to tell the truth, and these embarrassing displays of propaganda have to stop."

Kamala Harris

"What I just saw from the Attorney General is unacceptable. Barr must resign now," the California senator, who grilled Barr during Wednesday's hearing, said on Twitter.

In comments after the hearing, Harris focused on how Barr revealed that he did not review the underlying evidence Mueller's team used to draw its conclusions for the report submitted to the Justice Department.

"No prosecutor worth her salt would make a decision about whether the President of the United States was involved in an obstruction of justice without reviewing the evidence. This attorney general lacks all credibility, and has I think compromised the American public's ability to believe that he is a purveyor of justice," said Harris, who is a former attorney general of California.

John Hickenlooper

The former Colorado governor tweeted, "If @realdonaldtrump was a true executive, he would say 'you're fired' to Attorney General Barr for a failed job performance. But that won't happen, because Barr is doing what Trump hired him to do: to protect his boss, not the American people."

Jay Inslee

"Americans cannot trust William Barr to serve as our nation's top law enforcement officer. He should resign immediately," the Washington governor said on Twitter.

Amy Klobuchar

A spokesperson for the Minnesota senator, who is the third Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who's running in 2020, said in a statement to CBS News that the senator has "always thought he should resign — since she didn't want him to have the job in the first place because of his expansive view of executive power."

Seth Moulton

"One of the first lessons I learned in the Marines was the importance of integrity," the Massachusetts congressman said. "You can drop out of a run or fail a test, and they'll give you a second chance. But if you lie about anything, you're gone that afternoon. If Barr has any integrity, he'll resign.

Beto O'Rourke

"Barr has failed in his responsibility to our country," the former Texas congressman said on Twitter. "He is not fit to serve as Attorney General and should resign."

Eric Swalwell

The California congressman said that if Barr refuses to step down, "Congress must begin the process of removing him."

Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator said Barr is "a disgrace" and reiterated her call for impeachment of the president. "He should resign — and based on the actual facts in the Mueller report, Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the President," she said.

These senators were joined by other Democrats who aren't in the 2020 race. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said the day before the hearing that Barr should step down. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told Barr to his face during questioning that he should resign.

"Now the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani, or Kellyanne Conway, or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office," she said to Barr during the hearing. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the committee's Republican chairman, told Hirono she had "slandered" Barr.

Barr has given no indication that he intends to leave the job. The Justice Department did not immediately comment.

Hours after Wednesday's hearing, Barr declined to voluntarily appear before a House Judiciary Committee hearing that was set for Thursday.

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