Republicans, Democrats want Mueller to testify on report

Kenny Tucker
April 14, 2019

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday assembled a team to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's interactions with Russia, Fox News reported.

But in not answering some of the more pointed questions asked by House Democrats, Barr did reveal some important information that moves our understanding of not only the Mueller report but of his handling of it.

Nadler said he "fully" agreed, but stressed that Mueller should testify after the full report is delivered to Congress and Barr testifies. "I am relying on my own discretion to make as much public as I can".

Barr released the four-page letter summarising the report two days later and said he would release a redacted version of the full report by mid-April, "if not sooner".

Barr was also questioned about the initial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants approved to surveil members of the Trump campaign. "So they will be identifiable", Barr said. More likely, the report will include a series of troubling facts, many of which we already know, but none of which are enough to could convince Republicans to turn on Trump.

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"I haven't seen the referrals yet from Congressman Nunes, but obviously if there is a predicate for an investigation it will be conducted", Barr said. The letter said that Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russian Federation and Trump associates around the time of the 2016 election and that Barr did not believe the evidence in the report was sufficient to prove the president had obstructed justice.

Instead, the topic of his appearance is the Trump administration's proposed budget for the Justice Department for the fiscal year that begins in October. Just look at what White House ally Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the AP about Mueller's report.

Washington Post political columnist Paul Waldman wrote Tuesday that what's coming is "a public relations battle in which the attorney general is a key player".

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of NY tweeted that Barr's comments "directly contradict" what the Justice Department previously has said, and intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California said Barr's testimony surely pleases Trump but "also strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions".

The new attorney general's budget testimony - traditionally a dry affair, and often addressing the parochial concerns of lawmakers - comes as Democrats are enraged that Barr is redacting material from the report and frustrated that his summary framed a narrative about President Donald Trump before they were able to see the full version. "I suspect that they probably wanted more put out", he said. Asked why, Barr said, "Because it was my letter". Barr was grilled by Democrats on the handling of that summary, which stated the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 election. "I also think there may be, under appropriate safeguard, a way of people verifying that these categories were not abused, and at the end of the day, that the information is bona fide, privacy-related information and so forth, I'm willing to work with the Judiciary Committees on that".

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