News & Politics

AG William Barr Ruins Dems' Talking Points in New Letter to House and Senate Leaders

Attorney General William Barr speaks at Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

U.S. Attorney General William Barr effectively destroyed all of the Democrats’ talking points about the Mueller report in a letter to lawmakers Friday, and took a swipe at Democrat members of Congress and media who mischaracterized his summary of principal conclusions.

In his letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate and House Judiciary committees, Barr announced that he will release a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly 400-page “confidential report” into Russian interference in the 2016 election by mid-April.

“We are preparing the report for release, making the redactions that are required,” Barr wrote, noting that “the Special Counsel is assisting us in this process.”

The redactions, Barr wrote, will include:

(1) material subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 (e) that by law cannot be made public; (2) material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods; (3) material that could affect other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other Department offices; and (4) information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.

Barr pointed out that while President Trump has the right to assert executive privilege over some of the material, “he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review.”

The attorney general took strong exception to claims made by certain lawmakers and members of the media that his four-page statement on Mueller’s report, released on Sunday, was a summary of the entire report.

“I am aware of some media reports and other public statements mischaracterizing my March 24, 2019 supplemental notification as a ‘four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s review,'” Barr wrote. He cited a letter by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) as an example of someone who mischaracterized his letter.

For example, Chairman Nadler’s March 25 letter refers to my supplemental notification as a “four page summary of the Special Counsel’s review. My March 24 letter was not, and did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel’s investigation or report. As my letter made clear, my notification to Congress and the public provided, pending release of the report, a summary of its ‘principal conclusions’ — that is, its bottom line.

The Special Counsel’s report is nearly 400 pages long (exclusive of tables and appendices) and sets forth the Special Counsel’s findings, his analysis, and the reasons for his conclusions. Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own. I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.

In his summary Sunday, Barr said that Mueller’s investigation did not conclude that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in its election interference activities. While Mueller left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice during the investigation, the attorney general determined that no charges of obstruction were warranted under DOJ rules because there was no underlying crime to obstruct.

Barr said in his letter that he would be available to appear before both committees to testify about Mueller’s report on May 1 and May 2.