William Barr: Robert Mueller declined to review letter to Congress
Attorney General William P. Barr said Tuesday that he expects to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Congress within a week.
“My original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands,” he told a congressional panel. “So I think that from my standpoint, by within a week, I will be in a position to release to the report to the public.”
Mr. Barr bristled when asked if the White House has seen or been briefed on the Mueller report.
“I’m not going to say anything more about it,” he responded, saying he would discuss in greater detail when he testifies before the House and Senate next month.
Mr. Barr’s comments came during an appearance before the House Appropriations Committee where he was scheduled to speak on the Justice Department’s fiscal year 2020 budget.
The hearing is Mr. Barr’s first congressional testimony since sending Congress a four-page summary of Mr. Mueller’s principal conclusions.
Mr. Barr said in the summary that the special counsel did not find members of President Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia to subvert the 2016 election and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump sought to obstruct that investigation.
The attorney general said in the synopsis that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the evidence and concluded that Mr. Trump did not obstruct the Russia probe.
Democrats came out swinging against Mr. Barr in what is typically a routine budget hearing. They blasted his handling of the 400-page report, pressing him on his ability to summarize a 22-month investigation in roughly 48 hours.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Democrat, accused the attorney general of cherry-picking Mr. Mueller’s findings to cast the best possible light on the president. She called his handling of the report “unacceptable.”
“Even for someone who has done this job this before, I would argue it is more suspicious than impressive,” she said of Mr. Barr’s quick turnaround.
She also called on him to make only the minimal redactions to report itself.
Mr. Barr told the panel that Mr. Mueller declined an opportunity to review the four-page summary before it was sent to Congress.
“Mr. Mueller did not play a role in drafting the document,” Mr. Barr told a congressional panel. “We offered him the opportunity to review it, but he declined.”
However, Mr. Mueller’s team is working with the attorney general on redacting confidential information before the full report is released to Congress, Mr. Barr said.
Mr. Barr said there are four areas of information that must be redacted before the report can be released. That includes grand jury information, details that would reveal intelligence sources and methods, anything that implicates the privacy of “peripheral players.” and information that could interfere with ongoing prosecutions.
He said each redaction will be color-coded so Congress can understand why a redaction was made.