Attorney General William Barr testifies before Congress
While Attorney General William Barr answers questions on Capitol Hill about the special counsel report, Department of Justice attorneys are in court discussing the same topic.
DOJ attorney Courtney Enlow told a federal judge in Washington this morning that Barr is “well along” in the process of redacting the report for Congress.
Remember: Barr just said this to Congress, too, and added that the redacted report should be ready to release "within a week."
In court, the Justice Department wouldn’t say when the Mueller report will be released or if executive summaries provided by the Mueller team — as described in recent media reports— will be included in the report that Barr is currently redacting.
Why the DOJ is in court: The early lawsuit over the Mueller report’s release ultimately may prompt the court system to get involved in checking Barr’s redaction decisions, and perhaps fashion the release of a version of the report that’s redacted differently from what will be given to Congress this month.
That’s what the transparency group that brought the suit is hoping, the group said in court Tuesday.
The federal judge overseeing this request asked for a detailed update from DOJ on May 2 about the possible release of documents from the special counsel’s investigation to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.
The judge, Reggie Walton, said he would not step in immediately to get more information to the document requestor, a transparency group called the Electronic Privacy Information Center, but rather would allow for the Mueller report to be released first to Congress before asking for more details about the report’s subsequent release under the FOIA law.
Walton would “keep the parties on the fast track,” he said. “The public has the right to know what it can know.”
“This is an extremely important subject matter to the nation,” he added. It’s “important the government be as transparent as possible in what it produces.”
We're about an hour into Attorney General William Barr's testimony before the House appropriations subcommittee. If you're just tuning in, here's what you need to know.
Barr is there to talk about the Justice Department's budget, but Democratic aides say no topics are off limits, and a lot of the questions so far have focused on special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Here's what we've learned about it:
- The full Mueller report is coming: Barr said the Mueller report will be ready for release "within a week."
- But it will be redacted: Barr identified four types of information that will be redacted: Grand jury information, anything that would reveal intelligence sources and methods, information that could interfere with ongoing prosecution and information that implicates the privacy of "peripheral players."
- Barr didn't start off by talking about the report: Barr's opening statement touched on the opioid crisis, immigration and cybercrime — but not the Mueller report.
Attorney General William Barr smartly dodged Rep. Nita Lowey’s question about whether Trump’s claims of “total” exoneration are accurate.
Trump has said that the report gave him “total and complete exoneration” on collusion and obstruction – even though Barr said in his 4-page summary that Mueller specifically noted in the original report that it “does not exonerate” Trump of obstruction.
Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, asked Barr the question twice. He did not answer the specific question, instead saying that everyone will get a chance to read the report soon, and that would be the right time to discuss what’s in it.
By declining to answer, Barr protected himself from having to contradict his boss on national television.
Attorney General William Barr just shut the door on Chairwoman Nita Lowey when she asks if the White House has seen or been briefed on Mueller report.
"I'm not going to say anything more about it,” Barr responded.
What he did say: He's planning on releasing the redacted report "within a week." Until then, Barr wants to wait on discussing it further.
Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice is working on redacting special counsel Robert Mueller's report. The special counsel's office is helping with the process.
Barr said there are four areas of information that need to be redacted before the report can be released:
- Grand jury information
- Information that would reveal intelligence sources and methods
- Parts of the report that could interfere with ongoing prosecution
- Information that implicates the privacy of "peripheral players"
Barr has already released his summary of the report. He said the special counsel was given the opportunity to review his original March 24th letter, but Mueller declined to review it.
Attorney General William Barr said the process of redacting special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is going well, and he expects to release the report within the next week.
"Ay original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands. So I think that from my standpoint, by within a week, I will be in a position to release the report to the public," he said.
Attorney General William Barr's opening statement touched on the opioid crisis, immigration and cybercrime — but not special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Barr is testifying before the House appropriations subcommittee about the Justice Department budget. He detailed President Trump's budget requests and how the Justice Department would use the funds.
Remember: Even if Attorney General William Barr declines to speak about the special counsel probe at this hearing, he is coming back to Capitol Hill on May 1 and May 2 for hearings specifically to answer questions about the Mueller investigation.
Those hearings will be before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey told Barr that his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was "unacceptable" and the summary he released "raises more questions than it answers."
"I look forward to reviewing the Mueller report myself, and I know my constituents do as well. I understand that portions of it must be redacted as a matter of law, but my hope is that you will stop there and bring transparency to this process as soon as possible," Lowey said.
Right off the top, Chairman Jose Serrano mentioned "the elephant in the room" and said he believes "the American people deserve to see the full Mueller report."
Here's his full quote:
And of course, we cannot hold this hearing without mentioning the elephant in the room, and I am not referring to my colleagues on the other side. Two and a half weeks ago the Mueller report was completed. In extremely quick fashion, you turned a 300-plus page report into a 4-page letter that supposedly summarized the findings.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Special Counsel’s office had already created summary documents that were ignored in your letter, and that some investigators within the Special Counsel’s office felt that within the Special Counsel’s office your summary understates the level of malfeasance by the President and several of his campaign and White House advisors.
The American people have been left with many unanswered questions; serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report.
I believe the American people deserve to see the full Mueller Report, and to be trusted to make their own determinations on the merits based on what the Special Counsel has presented.