Former vice president Joe Biden called Wednesday night for Attorney General William P. Barr to resign, echoing several other 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls who have said the nation’s top law enforcement official has mishandled the special counsel investigation.
“I think he’s lost the confidence of the American people. I think he should,” Biden told a group of reporters in Des Moines. He was there on a swing through the first presidential nominating state as Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to field questions about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In a separate interview with Des Moines television station KCCI, Biden said he was “really disappointed” in Barr. He suggested that Barr appeared more interested in defending President Trump than evaluating the facts presented by Mueller about whether Trump obstructed the probe.
“He’s not the president’s lawyer. He’s the people lawyer,” Biden said of Barr. “He’s not there to defend the president.”
Biden also pointed to a letter Mueller wrote to Barr expressing his concerns with how Barr characterized the findings in the report before it was publicly released. During Wednesday’s hearing, Barr described the letter as “a bit snitty.”
Many others in the crowded Democratic presidential field have also called for Barr’s resignation, including Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who entered the race Thursday.
“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 during an interview with CBSN.
On Wednesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also called on Barr to go.
“AG Barr is a disgrace, and his alarming efforts to suppress the Mueller report show that he’s not a credible head of federal law enforcement,” Warren said in a tweet.
“What I just saw from the Attorney General is unacceptable. Barr must resign now,” Harris, a Judiciary Committee member, said in a tweet shortly after she questioned Barr at Wednesday’s hearing.
Gillibrand likewise said in a tweet that Barr “needs to resign,” arguing that “we can’t trust him to tell the truth.”
“Today, he’s proven once again that he’s more interested in protecting the president than working for the American people,” she said.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also tweeted a call for Barr’s resignation, urging supporters to sign a petition on his campaign website. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) said in a tweet that Barr had “failed in his responsibility to our country” and is “not fit to serve as Attorney General and should resign.”
Earlier Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) wrote on Facebook that “Americans cannot trust William Barr to serve as our nation’s top law enforcement officer.” Inslee said Barr should “resign immediately.”
Several other Democratic contenders have also called in recent days for Barr to step aside, including former Obama Cabinet member Julián Castro, Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.