U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar says President Donald Trump’s attorney general was either ‘misleading’ or ‘not telling the truth’ to Congress about the Mueller report into Russian election interference, but stopped short of declaring that William Barr committed a crime, as other Democrats have.
And that’s not the only difference between Klobuchar and some rivals in a 21-person Democratic presidential field: this week, she’ll become the second candidate to appear on Fox News for a town hall, and she has released a $100 billion plan to fight addition and mental health issues.
Klobuchar questioned Barr, who told Congress last month that he was unaware that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had concerns about Barr’s handling of the Russia investigation. Mueller had provided Barr with his concerns.
“At a minimum, he was being misleading. At the maximum, he wasn’t telling the truth,” Klobuchar said during a wide-ranging interview with FOX 9 on Sunday morning. “We want Bob Mueller to testify. Then we can ask him these questions about what happened with the attorney general. But I think even more significant than that is looking at the Russian interference.”
Klobuchar said she and other Democrats could have two focuses: on holding President Trump accountable for questions raised in the investigation into Russian election interference while making proposals on pocketbook issues that have long been seen as the key to electoral success.
“We can do two things at once. You can work to protect our laws, and you can also make sure that you have a positive economic agenda for this country, and that’s what I’ve been doing in this campaign,” she said.
Fox News town hall
Most of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Klobuchar, have struggled to break away from the huge field with nearly eight months to go before the Iowa caucuses. This week will see Klobuchar travel to four states in four days, leaving Minnesota to hold campaign stops in New Hampshire, take Senate votes, and appear in a Fox News town hall.
She will follow rival U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in participating in a town hall on the cable network. Klobuchar’s event is Wednesday evening in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, host of the 2020 Democratic convention. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is also scheduled to do a town hall on Fox News later this month.
Some Democratic voters have expressed displeasure with their candidates paying attention to the outlet, which features conservative talk hosts. But Klobuchar said she saw a benefit.
“One of the problems right now in our politics is that people are in opposite corners of the boxing ring. You want to have a leader in the White House that’s willing to reach out and bring people in,” she said.
Tax to fund addiction treatment
Klobuchar recently released a $100 billion plan to prevent and treat addiction and mental health issues, which she described as personally important to her because of her father’s struggles with alcoholism.
She said her plan would draw an estimated $40 billion from a tax of two cents per milligram of active ingredient in pain pills.
“I don’t want to put plans out there where we’re not paying for them, or I wouldn’t be running for president,” Klobuchar said. “And I don’t think the taxpayers should be paying for this. I think who should be paying for it are the people who profited off of it, and that is the opioid companies.”
Minnesota lawmakers failed to pass a similar proposal during the last legislative session. Other states, including New York, have imposed such fees on drug companies.
Asked how she would ensure that the companies don’t simply pass the added costs onto consumers, Klobuchar said “you just keeping pushing at the companies” that she said were using “scare tactics.”
Police shooting investigations
Police-community relations were a major part of the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, and likely will be again over the upcoming year. Klobuchar is a former Hennepin County attorney, giving her a front-row seat to the issue.
Klobuchar deflected to local officials when asked whether the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension should play a smaller role in investigating police shootings.
During the recent murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, Hennepin County prosecutors blasted the BCA for shoddy investigative work during the case. The criticism has reopened longstanding complaints about the agency’s handling of police shooting cases, and Gov. Tim Walz has said he’s looking into the issues raised by prosecutors during the Noor trial.
“You try to go to an outside body (to investigate),” Klobuchar said. “Here, we’re going to have to figure out – you want to have investigators that are able to investigate potential crimes do this investigation. If there are reforms that need to be made to how that investigation happens, that’s going to have to be decided on a local level.”