Attorney General William Barr expects a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be sent to Congress by mid-April, “if not sooner,” he wrote in a new letter to Congress — which was quickly criticized as too little and possibly too late by the chairmen of the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees.
“The Special Counsel’s report is nearly 400 pages long,” not including tables and appendices, Barr wrote in the letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees.
The report “sets forth the Special Counsel’s findings, his analysis and the reasons for his conclusions,” Barr wrote.
“We are preparing the report for release, making the redactions that are required,” he wrote. “Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own.”
Barr also offered to testify about the report to both Graham’s and Nadler’s committees on May 1 and 2.
But Nadler within an hour fired back at Barr, noting that he had told the attorney general earlier in the week that “Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2.”
“That deadline still stands,” Nadler said. “Congress must see the full report.”
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., responded late Friday afternoon, “Congress has asked for the entire Mueller report, and underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline stands.”
“In the meantime, Barr should seek court approval (just like in Watergate) to allow the release of grand jury material,” Schiff wrote on Twitter. “Redactions are unacceptable.”
Schiff’s and Nadler’s rebuttals left open the question of whether Congress will subpoena the full, unredacted Mueller report — and possibly Mueller himself — if Barr insists on submitting a redacted version.
Barr in his letter said, “I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.”
The attorney general also said “there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review” to give President Donald Trump a chance to assert claims that certain portions of the report should be exempt from disclosure.
The attorney general noted that Trump, while having the right to assert privilege “over certain parts of the report,” has “stated publicly that he intends to defer to me.”
Trump, speaking to reporters in Florida, said of Barr’s letter, “I have nothing to hide.”
“I have great confidence in my attorney general. Great confidence,” the president said.
“This is a hoax, this is a witch hunt,” Trump said of Mueller’s probe, which he said earlier this week completely exonerates him of any wrongdoing.
But, in fact, Barr said earlier this week that, according to Mueller’s own words, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Barr’s letter came after days of calls by congressional Democrats, including Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to release Mueller’s report, which the special counsel submitted to Barr on March 22.
The document details Mueller’s two-year-long investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, possible collusion by members of Trump’s campaign, and possible obstruction of justice by the president himself.
Barr on Sunday sent Congress a four-page summary of Mueller’s key findings. He wrote in that summary that Mueller had not found evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign.
The special counsel did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. But Barr in his summary said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the probe did not find sufficient evidence to establish that the president had obstructed justice.
The speed of Barr reaching that conclusion has concerned congressional Democrats, who say they need to see the full report to decide for themselves whether Barr’s decision was justified.
Barr said that Mueller “is assisting us in this process” of redacting certain material from the report.
That material includes information about the grand jury proceedings, which by law cannot be made public, information about intelligence sources and methods, details of ongoing investigations, and information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties,” Barr’s letter said.
But Nadler on Friday noted that he had told Barr that “rather than expend valuable time and resources trying to keep certain portions of this report from Congress, he should work with us to request a court order to release any and all grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee — as has occurred in every similar investigation in the past.”
“There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees,” Nadler wrote. “Again, Congress must see the full report.”
Nadler said he appreciated Barr’s offer to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 2, and “we will take that date under advisement.”
“However, we feel that it is critical for Attorney General Barr to come before Congress immediately to explain the rationale behind his letter, his rapid decision that the evidence developed was insufficient to establish an obstruction of justice offense, and his continued refusal to provide us with the full report.”
Graham, in a tweet, said, “I look forward to hearing from Attorney General on May 1st.”
— Additional reporting by
Read Attorney William Barr’s new letter on the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report