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Attorney General Barr Walks Back Comment on Foreign Interference in Presidential Elections

When asked by the House Judiciary Committee if a president should seek foreign assistance in an election, Bill Barr initially replied, “it depends”

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr said that whether the president seeks or accepts foreign assistance in an election “depends on what kind of assistance” — before walking his comment back and saying any involvement is “not appropriate.”

The question came amid a contentious back-and-forth with Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who reclaimed his time “without political bias” to say, “In April this year, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously found that Russia interfered with our elections and attempted to undermine American democracy, correct?”

“And I said so, too,” agreed Barr.

“Is it ever appropriate, Sir, for the president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an election?” the representative continued.

After a pause, Barr said, “It depends what kind of assistance.”

Cicilline asked again, adding, “Is it ever appropriate for the president or presidential candidate to accept or solicit foreign assistance of any kind in his or her election?”

Barr said, “No. It’s not appropriate.”

“Sorry you had to struggle with that one, Mr. Attorney General,” said Cicilline before moving on to further questioning.

Barr’s appearance before the Judiciary Committee was largely to answer questions about the government response to protests that have broken out in American cities in recent weeks.

Watch the exchange below.