AG Barr Grilled on His Handling of Mueller Report by House Democrats, Says Report Will Be Released 'Within a Week'

House Democrats grilled Attorney General William Barr on his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election during a congressional hearing on the Justice Department’s funding request for the next fiscal year.

Though the hearing was meant to discuss the Trump administration’s $29 billion budget request for the Justice Department in the 2020 fiscal year, Democratic lawmakers primarily used their allotted time to press Barr on his “unacceptable handling” of the report.

“Before getting into your budget request, I want to address a serious oversight matter ― your unacceptable handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, told Barr during the hearing.  

Two days after Mueller submitted his findings to the Justice Department, Barr sent a four-page summary of what he deemed to be the key findings of the report to the House Judiciary Committee. Barr concluded in his letter that Mueller’s report did not determine that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and that no obstruction of justice charges were warranted against the president, ABC News reports.

However, Lowey accused Barr of “cherry pick[ing] from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible” for Trump.

“It’s been reported that the report is 300 to 400 pages ― and I use the term ‘reported’ because we have no idea how long it actually is,” Lowey said. “All we have is your four-page summary, which seems to cherry-pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president. And, in many ways, your letter raises more questions than it answers.”

Lowey added that Barr’s ability to release his conclusions of the reports only two days later was “more suspicious than impressive.”

But Barr insisted that his conclusions weren’t made hastily, adding that he was able to release his conclusions so quickly because he had a “preliminary discussion” with Mueller and his team on March 5th so the Justice Department knew what was “coming our direction,” HuffPost reports.

“The thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the people at the Department of Justice. There was an inkling as to some of the thinking of the special counsel,” Barr said.

Barr also announced that he expects to release a redacted version of Mueller’s full report “within a week.”

“People can then read the report. I’m not going to discuss it any further until after the report is out,” he said, adding that the American people “deserve the facts.”

Both Democrats and Republicans, however, have called on Barr to grant Congress access to Mueller’s full report without redactions. However, Barr said he doesn’t “expect to send the full unredacted report” to lawmakers, HuffPost reports.

When asked if he believes there is any circumstance where Congress would be allowed to see the full, unredacted report, Barr said he would consider requests from the chairmen of the judiciary committees.

“Once that [redacted version of the] report is ready for release, I would not only give it to the chairmen on the judiciary committees, but I would talk to them and engage with them about what additional information they feel they require,” Barr said.

This was Barr’s first appearance before a congressional panel since the special counsel’s office completed its report on March 22nd.