Barr to release Mueller report to Congress by 'mid-April, if not sooner;' will not transmit to White House for privilege review
Attorney General Bill Barr plans to submit the full version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report to Congress by "mid-April, if not sooner," and will not give the White House a sneak peek, Fox News has learned.
The timetable comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle – and especially Democrats – demand that Barr turn over the full report. Barr submitted a four-page summary to congressional leaders on Sunday reporting Mueller did not find evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, while he did not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice.
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"As we have discussed, I share your desire to ensure that Congress and the public had the opportunity to read the Special Counsel’s report. The Special Counsel is assisting us in this process,” Barr wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
Barr said the Justice Department and the special counsel are “well along in the process of identifying and redacting” sensitive material, including material that “by law cannot be made public,” “material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods; material that could affect other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other Department offices; and information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Barr said that he anticipates they “will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner.” A Justice Department official this week told Fox News that the Mueller report is more than 300 pages long.
Barr added that: “Although the President would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report, 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 privilege review."
Barr also responded to requests from Nadler and Graham to testify before their respective committees, saying he believes "it would be appropriate for me to testify publicly on behalf of the Department shortly after the Special Counsel's report is made public." He added that he is available to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, 2019, and before the House Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2019.
The Democratic chairs of six House committees set a deadline of April 2 to submit the “full report.” They also called on him to start turning over “the underlying evidence and documents that same day.”
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“Your four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s review is not sufficient for Congress, as a coequal branch of government, to perform [its] critical work. The release of the full report and the underlying evidence and documents is urgently needed by our committees to perform their duties under the Constitution,” they wrote.
But Congress is likely to see a partially redacted version of the report.
The Justice Department leader and a small team of senior officials have been reviewing the report since its submission, working to remove sensitive material related to ongoing grand jury investigations.
Barr cited these considerations in his original memo to Congress, noting that federal law “protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.” He said his team must determine what material can and cannot be made public and, “As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”
Mueller’s determination that the investigation did not support claims of collusion were touted by President Trump as a “total exoneration.”
Democrats, though, have sought more information about what Mueller may have found on the obstruction issue. While Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined they could not support an obstruction case, Democrats challenged that conclusion as they sought the full report.
The recent letter to Barr also reminded him of the March 14 vote in the House calling for the release of the full Mueller report. The measure passed unanimously.
Barr stated in his confirmation hearing that he wanted to be as "transparent" as possible in the process of releasing the Mueller report, and repeated that sentiment in his letter to Congress setting out Special Counsel Mueller's principal conclusions.