One More Week for Mueller Report, Barr Tells Congress

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 arrives at a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Tuesday he expects to be ready to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report within a week.

“I think that from my standpoint, within a week I will be in a position to release the report to the public, and then I will engage with the chairmen of both judiciary committees about that report about any further requests that they have,” Barr said this morning, referring to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Barr said he is working with the special counsel’s office now to identify information in the report that must be redacted before becoming public. He said each redaction will be color-coded to indicate why it must be kept secret, and that he does not plan to release the full, unredacted report to Congress.

Barr said the redactions he expects to make would fall into four categories: grand jury material, details that might reveal intelligence sources or methods, information related to ongoing prosecutions, and anything that might hurt the reputation of a person who has not been charged.

He said the last type of redaction is consistent with department policy reaching back years, noting the outrage directed at former FBI Director James Comey when he publicly commented on the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

“The department’s longstanding policy and practice is that if we’re not going to charge someone, we don’t go out and discuss the bad or derogatory information about them,” Barr said.

Barr also said he does not intend to petition a federal judge for the release of grand jury information, leaving it to lawmakers to do so if they want access to the materials.

Barr made the comments during testimony before a House subcommittee on Tuesday, the first public testimony Barr has given since the end of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

So far, Barr has delivered a 4-page summary detailing what he described as the top-line findings of Mueller’s report. In addition to stating that the special counsel did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, Barr said Mueller did not reach a legal conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

The attorney general went on to say that, after consultation with other Justice Department officials, he determined Trump was clear of that charge as well.

Barr repeatedly told lawmakers Tuesday the document was not meant to be a comprehensive summary, but rather a more general review of the most important of Mueller’s findings. Responding to reports that people on Mueller’s team disagree with his description of the report, Barr said he was not trying to make the document the final word on the Mueller investigation.

“I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize because I think any summary, regardless of who prepares it, not only runs the risk of being underinclusive or overinclusive, but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once,” Barr said.

The House Judiciary Committee last week authorized Committee Chairman Representative Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to subpoena the full Mueller report.

Questions about Mueller dominated Barr’s time before lawmakers Tuesday morning, but members also asked the attorney general questions about the Justice Department’s day-to-day work, including its controversial decision to side with a state-led effort challenging the federal health care law.

Barr said the Justice Department’s job is to craft defensible legal positions, not health care policy. He also told Democrats that if they think the legal position is that far out of the mainstream, they should not be concerned about the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m just saying, if you think it’s such an outrageous position, then you have nothing to worry about,” Barr said. “Let the courts do their job.”

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