U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Friday the Justice Department is preparing a redacted version of the special counsel’s nearly 400-page confidential report on the Russia investigation and will be in a position to release it by mid-April, if not sooner.
In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Barr wrote that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assisting the Justice Department in scrubbing the report of secret grand jury material and other confidential information.
“Our progress is such that I anticipate we will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner,” Barr wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.
But Barr said he does not plan to share the report with the White House to get President Donald Trump’s greenlight, noting that Trump has left it up to him to release it in whatever form he deems appropriate.
“Although the president would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report, he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review,” Barr wrote.
Congress is out for a two-week spring break from April 12 to April 28, making it likely the report could be delivered when lawmakers are out of town.
Mueller concluded his 22-month investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election last Friday, writing in a final report to the attorney general that he had found no evidence that Trump or anyone associated with his 2016 presidential campaign had conspired with the Russian government to change the vote on Trump’s behalf, according to a summary of the report Barr released Sunday to Congress. But Mueller left unresolved the question of whether Trump had obstructed the investigation.
The attorney general drew fire from Democrats and other critics for “summarizing” in just four pages a report that is hundreds of pages long, and determining that Trump did not obstruct justice because he’d not been involved in an “underlying crime” in connection with the Russian election interference efforts.
Barr’s pledge to release the Mueller report came after the chairmen of six committees in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives gave the attorney general until April 2 to disclose the complete report and to start handing over underlying evidence Mueller used to write it.
In a statement Friday, Nadler said that deadline still stands.
“As I informed the Attorney General earlier this week, Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2,” Nadler said.
Trump has repeatedly called Barr’s summary of the Mueller report a “total exoneration” of the president and has said it would be fine with him if the report was made public.
In his letter to Nadler and Graham, Barr said he’s available to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1 and before the House judiciary panel on May 2. (VOA)