Also asks, “What is the President doing to protect our ... next election from foreign interference?”

Sen. Chris Coons , a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined CNN earlier today to preview the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr.

“I am now convinced that the Attorney General is conceiving of himself as the President’s lawyer, not the people’s lawyer. As someone who really was trying out for the role of President’s attorney by sending in an unsolicited 19-page memo attacking Robert Mueller’s theory of obstruction and then his conduct since becoming Attorney General suggests that he thinks his central role here is to defend the President and to make the best case he can on the evidence given to him by Mueller that the President was cleared even though there was voluminous evidence that misdeeds, inappropriate actions did in fact happen at the White House,” said Coons.

“It’s blindingly clear from Robert Mueller’s report that Russia directly interfered in our 2016 Presidential election. That’s been the conclusion of our intelligence committee for a long time but in great detail, Robert Mueller lays out the many ways in which Russia interfered in our election. What is the President doing to protect our country for the next election from foreign interference? There are things from folks at Homeland Security or NSA or FBI are doing but I don’t believe President Trump has ever directly said this is a threat, we need to confront it, and we need to invest in securing our next election,” said Coons.

Coons on Barr’s handling of the report:

That’s one of the things I think we should explore today. He certainly wasn’t fully forthcoming because he did know that Robert Mueller reached out to him first in a letter and second in a phone call to convey that he was upset or disappointed that William Barr’s summary, his four-page summary to Congress, was creating what he called public confusion.

That it didn’t fully reflect the context, substance, nature of the important work of the Special Counsel.

Coons on the timing of Mueller’s letter:

So, one of the first questions I want to get to this morning John, is whether it was that letter from Special Counselor Mueller that propelled Attorney General Barr to release much of this report and commit to testifying in front of Congress. One of my thoughts is that the timing of the release of this letter is quite telling.

It was released yesterday on the eve of Attorney General Barr’s testimony and suggest that at least some on Mueller’s team was very upset at the ways in which this four-page summary released by Attorney General Barr weeks ago was significantly misleading about the conclusion of the Special Counsels work.

Coons on Russian election interference:

There are two other things that I hope to get to, as you know John, there are lots of members of Judiciary and so it’s tough to predict what exactly I’ll get the chance to question but first it’s blindingly clear from Robert Mueller’s report that Russia directly interfered in our 2016 Presidential election.

That’s been the conclusion of our intelligence committee for a long time but in great detail, Robert Mueller lays out the many ways in which Russia interfered in our election. What is the President doing to protect our country for the next election from foreign interference? There are things from folks at Homeland Security or NSA or FBI are doing but I don’t believe President Trump has ever directly said this is a threat, we need to confront it, and we need to invest in securing our next election.

Coons on obstruction of justice:

Second, if part of what Robert Mueller report was supposed to do was clarify whether there was wrong doing or misdeeds, there’s ten different instances detailed in Mueller’s report of actions that amount to an attempt by the President to obstruct justice.

One that really stood out to me was two instances; when he directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel. The only reason that didn’t happen is that Don McGahn refused to carry out that order. To me, the many, many months that I was trying to get a bill passed to protect the Special Counsel and many Republicans said there’s no need to worry about that, Trump would never do something like that.

This is clear hard evidence that Trump tried to do exactly that and the only reason we’re not sitting here talking about an obstruction prosecution is that Trump’s own deputies, his White House Counsel in this case, didn’t carry out his directive. That’s stunning and John that deserves some discussion today.

Coons on Barr’s and Mueller’s relationship:

Well, they had a long professional relationship. I think he trusted the Attorney General to represent the work of the Special Counsel faithfully. I’ll choose to be thankful for the hard work of the Special Counsel and his team and for the evidence that’s in front of us today in the report that we have even with the redactions that we have.

Coons on Barr’s role:

Absolutely, that is the conclusion I was heading for John. I am now convinced that the Attorney General is conceiving of himself as the President’s lawyer, not the people’s lawyer. As someone who really was trying out for the role of President’s attorney by sending in an unsolicited 19-page memo attacking Robert Mueller’s theory of obstruction and then his conduct since becoming Attorney General, suggest that he thinks his central role here is to defend the President and to make the best case he can on the evidence given to him by Mueller that the President was cleared even though there was voluminous evidence that misdeeds, inappropriate actions did in fact happen at the White House.

Coons on Venezuela:

That’s as much as I know about it. Russia and Cuba have played a fairly heavy hand here in supporting the Maduro regime and the regional pressure that has been assembled in no smart due to Secretary Pompeo, I think is an important piece of this. There is strong bipartisan support for what the administration is doing and for the demonstrations and protests of the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore legitimate constitutional government in their country. My hope is that this will come to an end soon. But this is just one of many countries where we see Vladimir Putin interfering to prevent legitimate constitutional elections.