AG William Barr testifies to House Appropriations subcommittee

Jerry Nadler and Robert Mueller

Enlarge Image Jerry Nadler and Robert Mueller AFP Getty Images

Grand jury evidence is usually kept secret unless a prosecutor ultimately decides to level charges in the case, and Barr has maintained that the law prevents him from releasing it.

The chairman of the subcommittee said earlier it would be a serious blow to democracy if Mueller's full report is not fully made public.

The public is likely to get a greater look at the factors behind Barr's decision to clear Trump of obstruction of justice - Mueller had not exonerated Trump - and other investigative details when the attorney general releases a redacted version of the report, which he has promised by mid-April. "But, I'll have to say, until someone shows me a provision in 6 (e) that permits its release, Congress doesn't get 6 (e)". "That's why I'm suggesting that we wait until the report is out and I'm glad to talk to people about it after then and I'm already scheduled to testify about that". Barr stressed the report will be redacted citing classified content, ongoing litigation and privacy protection for persons not charged by Mueller's office that may have been interviewed in the process of the investigation. Just in case Barr fails to release the full report, the House Judiciary Committee has authorized a subpoena for the document.

Trump welcomed that conclusion and has claimed full vindication by Mueller.

That includes the most crucial and potentially damning information Democrats seek: testimony and documents from Mueller's grand jury, a panel of citizens convened to develop and hear the evidence and depose key witnesses behind closed doors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in to object to Barr's proposed redactions.

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Another potential category that doesn't apply, Barr has said, is information covered by executive privilege; the president has in effect waived privilege. "And we will have that discussion".

"As an attorney general you take positions based on the law, and you litigate them in court and the court makes the decision", he continued.

Barr's four-page letter highlighted Mueller's major findings that the special counsel's investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

Barr notably said that Mueller declined an opportunity to review the four-page letter he sent to Congress revealing the investigation's "bottom line" conclusions, although he conceded that Mueller's team might have preferred for the Attorney-General to have released more information initially.

"Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it's more suspicious than impressive", Lowey said. "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 under-inclusive or over-inclusive, but also, would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once".

"This Congress voted unanimously to see that report", the subcommittee's Democrat chairman, Jose Serrano said, adding that he could not simply ignore the "elephant in the room".

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Interestingly, Barr noted that Mueller's team did not play a role in drafting the original letter of summary given to Congress on the Special Counsel's report.

It's still unknown how much - if anything - Barr will say about the special counsel during his testimony Tuesday or when he returns for a Wednesday Senate appropriations hearing.

"Do you think it's likely we're going to prevail?"

Democrats have raised questions about how Barr was so quickly able to boil down Mueller's report into four pages.

Rep. Jerry Nadler of NY, the Democratic chairman of the House committee, tweeted Monday that he planned to eventually call Mueller to testify. But Walton denied the group's push to have the Justice Department immediately begin the process of fulfilling the Freedom of Information Act request, saying, "I have not been convinced that irreparable harm has been established".

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