Friday, 26 April, 2019


Barr to testify before Senate as Mueller report looms

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler speaks as he passes a resolution to subpoena special counsel Robert Mueller's full report US President Donald Trump says he has not read the Mueller report
Patty Aguilar | 12 April, 2019, 06:55

Attorney General William Barr has assembled a team at the Justice Department to review how the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation began in 2016, according to a United States official. The attorney general said he would investigate the origins and conduct of the early days of the Russian Federation investigation, a probe separate from an existing inspector general inquiry.

Nita Lowey (D-NY) laid into Attorney General William Barr at his budgetary hearing before the House Appropriations Committee.

Barr is facing a different type of high-pressure situation as he determines how much of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russia's role in the 2016 election and contacts between Moscow and Trump's campaign should be made public. The bland tone of Barr's presentation will do a lot of the work, serving to hide how the attorney general is dodging accountability and covering for the president with this argument.

Justice Department officials are scouring the report to remove grand jury information and details relating to pending investigations, among other materials.

In the Republican-controlled Senate, the threat of a subpoena is significantly lower for Barr, but he'll still have to face off with Democratic senators who are likely to push him on the report redactions as well as his four-page summary of Mueller's conclusions.

Others have said Barr made the right decision on the obstruction question, noting that it is hard to prove that Trump committed criminal obstruction if Mueller did not find that he destroyed evidence or directly interfered with the investigation - even though he assailed the inquiry as a "witch hunt" and called the investigators partisan zealots.

Barr told Congress that there were "no plans" to assert executive privilege and that the president told the attorney general to make the decisions regarding whether something should be redacted from the released Mueller report.

"I don't intend at this stage to send the full, unredacted report to the committee", Barr said, adding that wouldn't ask a court to release grand jury material "Until someone shows me a provision" that allows it to be released. I watched them on the Friday night that Mueller delivered his tome to Barr as they prattled on for hours with no information, convinced that something momentous had just happened.

Barr said he would elaborate at hearings scheduled by the House and Senate Judiciary committees at the beginning of next month.

Though Barr said at his January confirmation hearing that he didn't believe Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt, he struck a different tone Wednesday and said it "depends on where you're sitting". Barr said today that he expects the inspector general's investigation of these allegations to wrap up by May or June. If Congress agrees, there would be 100 new immigration judges, which the attorney general says are necessary to help address a backlog of about 820,000 pending cases nationwide.

Barr was also questioned about the initial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants approved to surveil members of the Trump campaign, including former Trump aide Carter Page.

"You're darn right I'm going after them again", Giuliani told the Associated Press of Mueller's team.

Though he said the document will be redacted to withhold negative information about peripheral figures in the investigation, he said that would not apply to Trump, an officeholder and someone central to the probe. When Crist asked about Trump's claim of total exoneration, despite Mueller's explicit statement that the report "does not exonerate" the president, Barr pretended that determining the meaning of the word "exonerate" was above his pay grade. Barr said his department had an idea of what would be coming from the Mueller team and therefore had a matter of weeks to think through how it would draft the March 24 letter to Congress.

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