CNN Legal Analyst Calls Out Network for Leaving Out Context in Clip of Barr Testimony

May 2, 2019

A CNN legal analyst noted during a Thursday segment that the clip they played of Attorney General William Barr's testimony was missing important context that indicated he didn't commit a crime.

Former Mueller assistant and Harvard Institute of Politics fellow Michael Zeldin was asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments in a press conference earlier in the hour that Barr was guilty of a crime for lying to Congress. Zeldin said that was unlikely, given how high the bar for perjury was.

"I think that what we saw with Barr's answers was an intent to mislead or an attempt not to answer the question, but not rising to the level that is a prosecutable crime," he said. "So I think Pelosi's response was more visceral..."

"She may really think that those question and answer by [Congressman Charlie Crist] and [Senator Chris Van Hollen] were specific enough and the answer was specific enough to support a lie," he continued. "I don't think so, though."

Host Kate Bolduan then played a clip of the exchange between Crist and Barr that presumably led to Pelosi's comments:

DEMOCRATIC FLORIDA REP. CHARLIE CRIST: Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. Do you know what they're referencing with that?

BARR: No, I don't.

Based on that clip, CNN's Asha Rangappa insisted that Barr did commit a crime, given that the public now knows that Mueller complained to Barr about the content of the March 24th letter. "It strains credulity to believe he did not know that his answer was false, and so I believe that, you know, there is a 'there' there in this case."

But as Zeldin responded, the clip that CNN was using was missing important context. "The issue here is in that clip when Barr said 'No, I don't,' and then we ended it, he goes on to say, 'but I suspect that they probably wanted more information to be released,'" he said.

"So he continues his answer," Zeldin said, "and it's the continuation of that answer that I think undermines the possibility that this is a prosecutable offense."

Published under: CNN