WASHINGTON — A partially redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report should be released “within a week,” Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday, responding to mounting pressure from Democrats to release the full, unredacted document immediately.
Redactions to the report will be color-coded to correspond to the reason why the underlying information is being withheld from the public, Barr said during his first appearance before Congress since Mueller submitted his final report in late March.
“My original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands,” Barr told Congress during an appearance nominally intended to discuss the Department of Justice’s 2020 budget. “From my standpoint, within a week, I’ll be in a position to release the report to the public.”
Barr refused to say whether the White House has seen the report or has been briefed on its contents, despite writing in a letter to Congress on March 29 that “there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for [an executive] privilege review.”
Intrigue and angst have pervaded Capitol Hill since Barr received a nearly-400-page report from Mueller in March, wrapping up the special counsel’s 22-month investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia and into whether Trump obstructed justice. Since then, Barr has only sent a four-page letter to Congress that said the report doesn’t find that Trump committed any crimes, but also doesn’t “exonerate” Trump.
In recent weeks, Mueller’s investigators have begun to voice their frustration with Barr’s handling of the report, reportedly telling associates that Barr’s letter left out some of the most damaging information. These revelations have prompted accusations from Democrats that Barr has attempted to present Mueller’s findings in the most positive light possible for Trump.
On Tuesday, Democrats slammed Barr’s handling of the endgame of Mueller’s investigation as “unacceptable,” and said he appeared to have tried to slant Mueller’s findings in Trump’s favor in his brief letter to Congress.
“All we have is your four-page summary, which seems to cherry-pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president,” said Rep Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York.
Barr said Tuesday that Mueller wasn’t involved in drafting or reviewing Barr’s March 24 letter to Congress, “because it was my letter.”
He said that he didn’t want to release partial “summaries” of Mueller’s findings early on, because he worried that would have prompted wild speculation and analysis about the report’s full contents.
“I was not interested in putting out summaries,” Barr said, because doing so “would trigger a lot of discussion that really should await everything coming out at once.”
Barr has said that DOJ lawyers are scouring the report and cutting out four types of information ahead of the public release, a process he said Tuesday is going “very well.”
Those four areas are:
- Grand jury materials
- Classified information
- Ongoing investigations
- Information affecting the “privacy” of “peripheral third parties”
Cover: In his first appearance on Capitol Hill since taking office, and amid intense speculation over his review of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, Attorney General William Barr appears before a House Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)