WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr told Congress on Tuesday he will send Congress his redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “within a week,” and that it will include material on obstruction of justice concerns.
In his first testimony before Congress since Mueller submitted the nearly 400-page confidential report on March 22, Barr also defended his four-page summary of Mueller’s conclusions as Democrats complained he appeared to paint a rosier picture of the findings than Mueller did.
Barr said Mueller and his team were working with him on the redactions, which will be color-coded to indicate the reason for withholding those sections. But Barr said he won’t release the full unredacted report to Congress, as Democrats and many Republicans have demanded.
He declined to answer questions about whether President Donald Trump or anyone at the White House has been briefed on the report. But he disclosed that he read his two letters about it to the White House, but didn’t allow it to make changes, before sending them to Congress.
“This process is going along very well and my original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands,” Barr said at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee.
“And so I think that, from my standpoint, by within a week I will be in a position to release the report to the public,” he said. “And then I will engage with the chairmen of both Judiciary committees about that report, about any further questions that they have.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), House Judiciary Committee chairman, has threatened to subpoena the full original report and its underlying documents if Barr delivers only a redacted version to Congress.
On March 24, two days after Mueller submitted his report, Barr sent a letter to the top four Judiciary Committee members that he said contained his summary of Mueller’s conclusions.
The letter said Mueller did not find that Trump or his associates criminally conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election, and that Mueller couldn’t come to a judgment on whether Trump obstructed the Russia investigation.
Though the report did not charge or exonerate the president on obstruction concerns, Barr said in the letter that he concluded that Muller’s evidence was insufficient to charge Trump.
Barr said Mueller declined the chance to review the letter about his conclusions. Barr sent another letter on March 29 about how he would redact the report and about his mid-April delivery.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester), Appropriations Committee chairwoman, called Barr’s handling of the Mueller report “unacceptable.” She said his summary of conclusions appeared to “cherry-pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president.”
She asked Barr how he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could summarize such a lengthy, detailed report in such a short time.
“The thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the people at the Department of Justice,” Barr replied.
Rosenstein and his staff had interacted with Mueller and his team during the probe, Barr said, adding that on March 5 “the deputy and I met with special counsel Mueller and his team and had a preliminary discussion about the report.”
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), the subcommittee chairman, told Barr he had “serious questions” about his version of Mueller’s conclusions, citing reports that some Mueller team members complained that it understated the “malfeasance” of Trump and his advisers.
Asked by Serrano if the report’s material about Trump’s potential obstruction of justice would be withheld, Barr said, “As things stand now, I don't think that they will be redacted, so they will be identifiable.”
Barr said he will redact grand jury material, information that reveals intelligence sources and methods, matters involving investigations Mueller spun off, and information involving the privacy or reputation of unindicted individuals.
Barr will appear before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. He has agreed to testify about the report before the Senate and House Judiciary committees on May 1 and May 2.