The chair of the House Judiciary Committee wants Attorney General William Barr to release any summaries of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that were prepared by Mueller’s own team.
Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler sent a letter to Barr after media reports said Mueller’s team was unhappy with Barr’s own summary because, the reports say, Mueller’s probe was more damaging to Trump than Barr led Congress and the public to believe.
“If these recent reports are accurate…then those summaries should be publicly released as soon as possible,” Nadler wrote. “You have already provided an interpretation of the Special Counsel’s conclusions in a fashion that appears to minimize the implications of the report as to the president. Releasing the summaries without delay would begin to allow the American people to judge the facts for themselves.”
According to Barr’s four-page summary of a more than 300-page report, Mueller concluded that neither Trump nor his campaign colluded with Russia in trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
According to Barr, while Mueller’s report “did not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr also wrote he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, could not find evidence that Trump committed a crime by allegedly trying to derail the investigation.
While Trump insists the Mueller report, based on Barr’s summary, totally exonerates him and some Republicans say it’s time to move on, many Democrats are not satisfied — especially when Mueller said he cannot exonerate Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to authorize Nadler to issue subpoenas for the entire Mueller report, as well as all the evidence he used.Barr on Thursday defended his handling of Mueller’s report. He has promised to release as much of the report as possible, adding that the document contains confidential grand jury materials.
The Justice Department said it is working with the Mueller team to determine what the public can see. Trump had called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. He has also said the whole report should be released and called Mueller “honorable.” Thursday, he lashed out at Democrats.
“According to polling, few people seem to care about the Russian Collusion Hoax, but some Democrats are fighting hard to keep the Witch Hunt alive,” he tweeted. “They should focus on legislation or, even better, an investigation of how the ridiculous Collusion Delusion got started – so illegal!” But several courts have upheld Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. (VOA)
U.S. Attorney General William Barr appeared before Congress on Wednesday to defend his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s March 22 report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, saying the decision to release an early summary of the report was his and dismissing questions about his depiction of Mueller’s findings.
In a hearing marked by partisan acrimony, Democrats grilled the attorney general over his four-page summary letter to Congress and Mueller’s subsequent complaint about the summary.
Democrats accused Barr of grossly understating evidence of President Donald Trump’s misconduct in the summary in an effort to justify his controversial decision to exonerate the president of obstruction of justice during the investigation.
“It was my baby whether or not to disclose it to the public,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I determined that it was in the public interest for the department to announce the investigation’s bottom-line conclusions — that is, the determination of whether a provable crime has been committed or not.”
Much of the hearing focused on a letter Mueller wrote to Barr on March 27 in which the special counsel complained that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” his office’s work and conclusions and urged the attorney general to release the report’s executive summaries without delay.
In a subsequent phone call, Barr said, the special counsel expressed concern about how his findings were being portrayed in the media. However, he said Mueller did not characterize the summary as either “misleading” or “inaccurate.”
Barr said he turned down the special counsel’s request because he did not want to release “additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion, leading to public debate over incomplete information.” The Justice Department released a redacted version of the 448-page report on April 18.
The special counsel wrote in his final report that the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Trump campaign member with conspiring with Russian government representatives to meddle in the 2016 election, but the office did not draw conclusions about whether the president had obstructed justice.
That left it to the attorney general “to determine whether the conduct described in the report constituted a crime,” Barr wrote in his March 24 summary letter to Congress, adding that he and his No. 2, outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, had examined the evidence and determined that it was not enough to support obstruction charges against Trump.
Barr defended his decision, saying the lack of “an underlying crime” — in this case, the absence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia — made it difficult to prove Trump’s “criminal intent,” which is key in proving obstruction of justice.
Asked by the committee chairman, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, if he “felt good” about his decision, Barr responded, “Yes.”
The Mueller report examined 11 instances of potential obstruction of justice, including an attempt by Trump in June 2017, just weeks after Mueller’s appointment, to get the special counsel fired, and then get his then-White House counsel, Don McGahn, to deny a newspaper account about it.
But Barr defended the president’s right to fire a special counsel and said none of the episodes documented by Mueller constituted obstruction of justice. And when Democrats pressed him to denounce the president for getting underlings to lie on his behalf, Barr demurred.
“I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,” Barr said. “I’m in the business of determining whether a crime has been committed.”
Barr, a former attorney general in the administration of the late President George H.W. Bush in the 1990s, returned to the Justice Department in February after Trump tapped him last year to replace his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whom he fired in November.
Barr’s confirmation hearing was dominated by questions about his expansive views of presidential powers and his past criticism of the Mueller investigation. In a 19-page memo last June to Rosenstein, who then oversaw the Russia investigation, Barr called the special counsel’s obstruction investigation “fatally conceived.”
Democrats accused Barr of bias. “You’re biased in the situation and you’ve not been objective,” said California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate. Republicans came to Barr’s defense, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas accusing Democrats of impugning the attorney general’s integrity.
Barr was also widely criticized for holding a news conference to discuss the findings of the Mueller report hours before either members of Congress or journalists had a chance to read it.The attorney general told reporters that the special counsel’s probe did not find that Trump or anyone in his campaign had coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 election, and that later, after he assumed power, Trump had “no corrupt intent” to obstruct the probe.
Barr said the president “took no act that in fact deprived” Mueller of “documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”
The Justice Department informed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday night that Barr would not testify at a planned hearing Thursday. This raises the prospect that Democrats will hold the nation’s top law enforcement official in contempt of Congress. (VOA)