Attorney general says 'spying on a political campaign is a big deal'

Phillip Cunningham
April 14, 2019

A federal judge in Washington refused on Tuesday to fast-track the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russian Federation investigation, ruling that a group suing for those records had failed to show that it would be irreparably harmed by a slower disclosure process. Barr has said a redacted version of Mueller's report will be made available to lawmakers in the coming days. "Although the President would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report", Barr wrote in that letter, "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 a privilege review". "I suspect that they probably wanted more put out", he said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of NY tweeted that Barr's comments "directly contradict" what the Justice Department previously has said.

Barr was summoned to Congress to talk about his department's budget request, but politicians still asked about the Mueller report as they waited to see it. Barr's prepared remarks, sent to the committee on Monday, focused on funding requests for immigration enforcement and the fights against violent crime and opioid addiction, not mentioning the special counsel's report at all. Ex-FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI "knew so little" about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were "true or not true" at the time that they opened the probe, noting that they had just "a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path" of vetting the allegations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said he was unsatisfied with Barr's answers to the appropriations panel, saying he could issue subpoenas "very quickly" if the report is released with redactions. Yes, I think spying did occur. He called on Barr to testify before the committee on May 2.

Barr said in the summary released last month that Mueller didn't find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin.

The Justice Department's Inspector General is also reportedly conducting their own separate investigation into whether or not James Comey mishandled classified information. Butler said the Mueller report and related records could help inform the "ongoing public debate" around the Russian Federation investigation.

He is likely to be asked to further explain himself at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that is also on the budget. Moreover, while Mueller did not reach a conclusion as to whether Trump obstructed justice, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that the president did not.

If the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees want to see more, the attorney general said he would play ball.

Inviting Mueller to testify, Collins continued, would ensure "we will all hear the unfiltered truth from a man who conducted his investigation with integrity and professionalism".

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