Trump renews Mueller attacks as Russia report release looms

FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters

FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters

Attorney General William Barr is defending his decision to send a letter to Congress detailing special counsel Robert Mueller's principal conclusions because the public would not have tolerated waiting weeks for information.

Barr also said he personally decided after reviewing the report that Mueller did not find enough evidence to show that Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice. And Collins likely hopes he'll be able to put concern about a "cover-up" to rest with two questions: "Do you believe that Attorney General Barr has deliberately worked to soften your report's impact on President Trump, and does the public version of the report accurately represent the scope of your findings?"

I've said what I'm going to say about the report today...

House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing for the budget request for the Department of Justice with Attorney General William Barr.

Barr reiterated the four categories of information he wants to redact from the Mueller report before its release. But Walton denied the group's push to have the Justice Department immediately begin the process of fulfilling the Freedom of Information Act request, saying, "I have not been convinced that irreparable harm has been established".

Barr said that the administration is "very worried" about them.

But Barr, who took office in mid-February, was peppered with pointed questions from Democrats about the 22-month Mueller probe and how much of the final report - almost 400 pages long - he intends to make public.

"The office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the FISA process in the Russian investigation and I expect that to be completed probably in May or June, I am told", Barr responded.

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He made clear though that he was not prepared to release the entire report to either the public or Congress.

In excerpts from her opening statement released Monday night, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said that Barr's summary letter "raises more questions than it answers".

Barr countered that he and other Justice Department officials had already been briefed on Mueller's findings and had a strong "inkling" about what was coming when the special counsel delivered his report on March 22.

Democrats have urged Barr to make the case to a judge for an exception to the rules that prevent the Justice Department from releasing grand-jury information to Congress, but Barr said he has no plans to do so. Barr is also testifying before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, where he's likely to face similar questions ahead of the Mueller report's release.

He also said that Mueller was unable to make a case that President Donald Trump obstructed justice, but that the special counsel did not exonerate Trump. They will try to repeat the extraordinary success they achieved when Barr's letter was released, when newspaper headlines and TV news stories trumpeted that Mueller had essentially found Trump innocent, and it wasn't until later that some investigators on Mueller's team leaked word that Barr mischaracterized what they actually found and kept secret summaries they had written specifically for public consumption.

"Many of the people who are right now calling for the release of the report were castigating Ken Starr for releasing the Starr report", he said.

That's why Nadler and his colleagues say they're so eager to see Mueller's full findings and discoveries, without relying on the interpretation provided by the attorney general.

The Justice Department is preparing to release within days a redacted version of Mueller's report into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Judiciary committee members have voted to authorize Nadler to subpoena that material if necessary.

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