AG to testify on Mueller report

Washington, April 9 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/9/2019 1:09:28 PM IST

US Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday for the first time since he received and summarised special counsel Robert Muellers report on Russias interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

It will be Barr’s first public appearance on the Capitol Hill after becoming the Attorney General. It also comes amid his department scrubbing Mueller’s report with an aim to release it by mid-April, the Washington Post reported.

Barr’s handling of the nearly 400-page document has already sparked political spats and Democrats are likely to press him to turn it over to lawmakers in full, according to the daily.

The Attorney General in a publicly released letter to Congress on March 24 summarised Mueller’s report and quoted some of the counsel’s findings, including the conclusion that Russia did attempt to interfere in the US election campaign.

Barr wrote the probe “did not establish that members of the (Donald) Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”. He also stated the evidence found in the probe was “not sufficient” to establish that President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

The Post reported that Democrats, in particular, criticised Barr’s “bare-bones” description of Mueller’s findings, and some on the counsel’s team told associates that they were frustrated with the limited information made available about their work. Barr could change that when he releases the report, the daily said.

Representative Nita M. Lowey, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said Barr’s quick release of Mueller’s conclusions was “more suspicious than impressive” and she called on him to make minimal redactions to the report itself.

“I understand that portions of it must be redacted as a matter of law, but my hope is you will stop there and bring transparency to this process as soon as possible,” Lowey said. “The American people deserve the facts.”

Democrats are likely to question Barr on the extent of the material he will hold back and conversations he has had with the White House about the report.

Barr will appear at the hearing with the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus. His opening statement, which was released on Monday, makes no mention of Mueller’s investigation, but instead focuses on the reason the hearing was convened: the Justice Department budget.

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