Barr to testify before the Senate as Mueller's report looms

Barr to testify before the Senate as Mueller's report looms

Barr was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on the Department of Justice's budget request for the 2020 fiscal year, but questions quickly turned toward the Mueller report and a letter Barr sent to Congress on the topline findings of the investigation.

Ever since Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress last month disclosing the "principle conclusions" of the Mueller report, numerous Trump administration's critics have grown increasingly suspicious that Barr is working to protect the president from that report's findings.

"In order to ask Special Counsel Mueller the right questions, the Committee must receive the Special Counsel's full report and hear from Attorney General Barr about that report", Nadler tweeted.

To be transparent about what would be redacted, he told lawmakers he intends to "color code the excisions from the report" and provide "explanatory notes describing the basis for each redaction". He also said the attorney general will be taking input and suggestions from the special counsel on redactions. That FBI investigation began in July 2016 and eventually included surveillance warrants targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign advisor.

Contrary to circulating rumors, "the thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the people at the Department of Justice prior to his submission of the report", Barr said. "And then when the report came ... the deputy attorney general and I and our staffs worked closely for the balance ... of Saturday and Sunday".

Barr also said he is handling Mueller's report in a way that conforms with rules set out during Bill Clinton's presidency, but he added that much of the report will be released "within a week".

Of course, the news of the impending release of the report did not satisfy all congressional Democrats.

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Barr said that he reviewed Mueller's evidence and made his own determination that Trump should not face obstruction charges.

Some investigators on Mueller's team were reportedly concerned that the DOJ chief's characterization of the investigation's results portrayed them as more favorable toward Trump than they actually are.

Barr was summoned to Congress to talk about his department's budget request, but lawmakers still asked about the Mueller report as they waited to see it. Barr's opening remarks focused on funding requests for immigration enforcement and the fights against violent crime and opioid addiction, not mentioning the special counsel's report at all. Barr responded that he didn't know what their concern was, but that he suspected they wanted more put out.

William Barr takes a seat after a break in his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2019. He later described in a March 29 follow-up letter what kind of material would be redacted and announced he meant to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner. "I am not going to sit here and try to characterize his reasoning or his report, that's why it's important to get the whole report out instead of trying to read these little tea leaves".

But House Democrats are demanding the report be released in its entirety.

Barr notably said that Mueller declined an opportunity to review the four-page letter he sent to Congress revealing the investigation's "bottom line" conclusions, although he conceded that Mueller's team might have preferred for the Attorney-General to have released more information initially.