VIDEO - Coons on the shutdown: “If President Trump will re-open the government, I think we could make progress on border security” but “the majority leader is nowhere to be found in these negotiations.”

Sen. Chris Coons , a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last night joined MSNBC’s Hardball. He wondered where Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, has vanished to.


If President Trump will re-open the government, I think we could make progress on border security. But, I’ll remind you, the majority leader is nowhere to be found in these negotiations, and I think he bears some real responsibility in helping move forward a resolution to this impasse.

I’m hearing from folks up and down my home state of Delaware whether they’re federal law enforcement officers who are serving without pay, who I called and asked about morale and operational effectiveness, to farmers and folks concerned about food safety, about where the Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration is in terms of protecting our public health or supporting our agriculture community.

We’ve got a lot of effects from the shutdown, and I think Mitch McConnell should step forward and take his responsible role and help negotiate a resolution and get President Trump to re-open the government,” said Coons.

On Barr:

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s confirmation hearing. I had a chance to meet with William Barr last week and to ask him the questions I’m going to repeat tomorrow on the record in a confirmation hearing. I have an editorial that’s gone up in The Washington Post that repeats the context we’re in and why this isn’t a normal time.

I’m encouraged that President Trump has nominated someone who previously was Attorney General and who has a lot of experience in the Department of Justice.

But when William Barr was Attorney General, more than 25 years ago, we didn’t have a President who was under investigation and whose personal attorney and campaign manager and national security adviser had either pled guilty to or been convicted of a variety of crimes involving lying to the government. So, I’m going to be pressing William Barr tomorrow to allow the Mueller investigation to go to its logical conclusion.

To release the report to the Congress and the public, to submit to the ethics officials in the Department of Justice, to see whether he should recuse himself given that 19-page try-out memo you referenced, and to get some clarity from him about whether he would defend and follow the Special Counsel Integrity and Independence Act that Senators Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis has reintroduced along with Senator Booker and myself.

More on Barr:

That’s important precedent to remind folks about. The Saturday Night Massacre back during the Watergate investigation where President Nixon ordered Elliot Richardson to fire the special prosecutor, he refused, and he resigned instead in protest.

That followed a confirmation hearing where Elliot Richardson was asked exactly that question. If pressed to interfere or intervene with the investigation or to fire the special prosecutor, will you resign in protest?

Elliot Richardson said yes, and he followed that commitment. That’s exactly the sort of exchange I expect we’ll be having tomorrow in the Judiciary Committee with William Barr.

On the NYT story:

Well, Chris, that’s exactly why I think we need to have Robert Mueller’s investigation proceed to its logical conclusion and then have those results shared with Congress and the public. I don’t know whether those allegations are well-founded or whether they aren’t.

There certainly has been some troubling, disturbing, unprecedented actions by our President in refusing to accept the conclusions of the intelligence community, of resisting efforts by senators, both Republican and Democrat, to pass sanctions against Russia after the 2016 elections.

Conducting himself in an unusual way in that Helsinki Summit with President Putin. There are certainly concerning signs. But I don’t have concrete evidence of this. And that’s exactly why a well-respected Republican senior law enforcement leader like Robert Mueller has been empowered to conduct this special investigation and needs to be allowed to do it and reach its natural conclusion.

On the shutdown:

Well, I’ll also say, Chris, one of the places that Mitch McConnell is absent is in any conversation about how to end the shutdown. We’re in day 24 of a government shutdown.