Washington, Apr 9 (EFE).- US Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday in a congressional hearing promised to release “within a week” a redacted version of the Russia report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, adding that he is not considering sending a copy to the White House prior to that release.
“Within a week I will be in position to release that report to the public,” said Barr before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the Justice Department’s budget, adding that “I don’t intend at this stage to send the full unredacted report to the committee.”
The top US justice official said that he will send the report to Congress when he finalizes the process of reviewing and redacting it.
“I’m operating under a regulation that was put together during the (Bill) Clinton Administration and does not provide for the publication of the report,” Barr told lawmakers. “But I am relying on my own discretion” to make information from it public, he went on to say.
Nita Lowey, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, said at the hearing that the “principal conclusions” in Barr’s letter to Congress two weeks ago – including his determination that no obstruction of justice charges are warranted against President Donald Trump, seemed “to cherry pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president.”
Congressional Democrats are demanding the release of the entire report.
When asked if he believes that Mueller fully exonerated the president, as Trump and his supporters have been loudly proclaiming, Barr said “it’s hard to have that conversation” before the report is publicly released and he urged the public – and lawmakers – to have patience.
He did say, however, that he expects the concerns Mueller raised regarding obstruction of justice to be made public, saying that “As things stand now, I don’t think they will be redacted.”
Barr said any redactions he makes to the report will be explained through a color-coded system he includes with the report, adding that he is working with Mueller to redact certain material 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.”
Barr said that once he releases the redacted version of the report, he would ask the chairmen of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees if they “feel they need more information” and, if so, will determine if they can be accommodated.
In mid-March, the House voted unanimously – despite the deep partisan divide existing on many, if not most, issues before lawmakers – for the full report to be made public, although that vote is not legally binding.
On Tuesday, lawmakers also asked Barr if he intends to send the report to the White House before he releases it, something that he said is not in his plans.
Barr appeared to be reluctant to speak about the report during the congressional hearing – the aim of which ostensibly was to analyze the budgetary needs of his department, although it was well-known in advance that he would face tough questioning from Democrats regarding the report – and he urged lawmakers present at the session to wait until the document is made public, when he said he would be able to provide the necessary explanations.
After his probe lasting about two years, Mueller on March 22 delivered his complete and finalized report to the attorney general, who so far has released a four-page letter to Congress summarizing it and saying that the special counsel’s team did not find any proof that Trump or his campaign staff conspired with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election.
The House Judiciary Committee, which is controlled – just like the entire House – by the Democrats, has pushed for the publication of the entire report claiming that it is a matter national interest and that Barr could be interpreting it in a partisan manner to exonerate Trump of any suspicions against him.