U.S. Attorney-General William Barr told lawmakers on Tuesday that he intends to release within a week the long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Within a week, I will be in position to release that report to the public and then I will engage with the chairmen of both judiciary committees about that report, about any further requests that they have,” Mr. Barr said at a congressional hearing.
Mr. Mueller turned over his confidential report to Mr. Barr last month following his 22-month-long probe into whether Donald Trump may have colluded with Russia during the presidential campaign and if he then obstructed inquiries into the matter.
Mr. Barr later released a four-page letter to Congress laying out what he said were Mr. Mueller’s main findings and wrote that the Mueller probe did not establish that members of Mr. Trump’s election campaign conspired with Russia.
Democrats have called for the Mueller report to be released in full but Mr. Barr said on Tuesday: “I don’t intend at this stage to send the full unredacted report to the committee.”
“I am relying on my own discretion to make as much public as I can,” he told a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee.
It was Trump appointee Mr. Barr’s first appearance before Congress since Mr. Mueller delivered the report to him on March 22.
“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.”
“The American people deserve to see the full Mueller report, and to be trusted to make their own determinations on the merits.”
Democrats also criticised Mr. Barr for taking it upon himself in the letter to decide that Mr. Trump should not be charged with obstruction.
Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Mr. Barr’s letter summarising the Mueller report appears to “cherry-pick from the report to draw the most favourable conclusion possible for the president.”
“In many ways, your letter raises more questions than it answers,” she added.
Mr. Barr said he was working with Mr. Mueller to redact sensitive information in four areas: secret grand jury information; information that could expose intelligence-gathering sources and methods; information relating to ongoing criminal cases; and information that “implicates the privacy or reputational interests of peripheral players where there is a decision not to charge them.”
The New York Times and The Washington Post reported last week that some investigators on Mr. Mueller’s team were unhappy with the way Mr. Barr described their findings. The reports said that some of the evidence against Mr. Trump was more damning than Mr. Barr’s letter indicated.
Mr. Barr said he did not have insight into why some on Mr. Mueller’s team were upset. “I suspect that they probably wanted more put out,” he said.
Last week, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee prepared subpoenas that they plan to issue to the Justice Department if Mr. Barr does not agree to release the Mueller report in full.