Attorney General William Barr testified before Congress Tuesday saying he will release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400 page report within a week. Barr stressed the report will be redacted citing classified content, ongoing litigation and privacy protection for persons not charged by Mueller’s office that may have been interviewed in the process of the investigation.
Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, Barr emphasized that based on regulations put in place during President Bill Clinton’s tenure he is required as the Attorney General to review the report and release it based on ‘public interest’ in the findings. The regulations do not allow Mueller to publish his own findings, like what happened under Kenneth Starr’s report on Clinton.
“As I’ve said, and you pointed out, since my confirmation I do think it’s important that the public have an opportunity to learn the results of the Special Counsel’s work,” Barr told Congressional members. “I said then I would work diligently to make as much information public as I could and to congress as I could.”
Operating under Clinton Regulations
Moreover, Barr reminded the panel of lawmakers that he’s “operating under a regulation that was put together during the Clinton Administration and does not provide for the publication of the report.”
“But I am relying on my own discretion to make as much public as I can,” he added. My original timetable to release this by mid-April stands… within a week the report will be released.”
In a letter sent to Congress on March 29, Barr identified four areas that he believes must be redacted before the report is made public. He said the redactions are necessary to protect classified information and ongoing litigation.
Further, Barr said the report will “color code the decisions from the report and put in explanatory notes making it public” to distinguish the redactions between the various categories. The DOJ is putting in the color code to alleviate any lawmakers who may question why particular areas of the report need to be redacted.
Areas To Be Redacted From Mueller’s Report
- First, Grand Jury information, material
- Secondly, any information that would reveal “intelligence sources and methods,” Barr testified.
- Third is information in the report that could interfere with ongoing prosecutions. “You will recall that the special counsel did spin off a number of cases that are still being pursued,” Barr told lawmakers. “We want to make sure that non of the information in the report impinge upon either the ability for prosecutors to prosecute the cases for the fairness to the defendants.”
- Last, Barr stated he intends to redact information that implicates the privacy or repetitional interests “of peripheral players where there was a decision not to charge them.”
Interestingly, Barr noted that Mueller’s team did not play a role in drafting the original letter of summary given to Congress on the Special Counsel’s report. He said his team offered Mueller the “opportunity to review it before we sent it out and he declined” the offer. Also, Mueller did not review or aid in the drafting of a follow-up letter Barr sent to Congress on March, 29th, he said.
Democrats Wrangle With Barr Over Report Summary
Democrats wrangled with Barr at the hearing over his handling of the report and some accused him of playing favoritism for President Trump.
Democratic Chairwoman of the committee Rep. Nita Lowey, said she was concerned that Barr summarized a 400 page report into just a four-page letter in two days.
His summary stated that Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump associates, and that Barr, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, did not find evidence to prove the president had obstructed justice.
“Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it’s more suspicious than impressive,” Lowey said.
Barr responded: “The thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the Department of Justice prior to the submission of the report.”
Six leading Democrats, however, say they will fight the redactions. Barr is up against Democratic Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
They, along with their colleagues, say the report should be released without redactions. They also want all of the evidence that supports the reports findings and have threatened to subpoena the information.