With the Russia investigation complete, a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is expected to be released this week, according to Attorney General William Barr, but he does not plan to provide Congress with an unredacted version by demand of congressional Democrats.
Barr said that Justice Department lawyers and members of Mueller’s team would not remove information that would harm the “reputational interests” of Trump, according to the New York Times. Barr also said that he had not overruled Mueller’s team on any proposed redactions from the Mueller report, and he had not discussed with the White House sensitive information that Mueller’s team is blacking out before release.
House Democrats have clashed with Barr over his unwillingness to give an unredacted version of the report, including the investigation’s underlying evidence and material he may have edited from the report, says CNN. Democratic lawmakers argue that they need such material to fully grasp the implications of Mueller’s findings and judge whether or not Barr fairly represented what was found. This comes after Barr’s decision to share the report’s main findings in a four-page letter, with which Democrats criticized him for failing to fully represent their findings. However, Barr reassured senators that he would be willing to re-evaluate his decision to try to accommodate their concerns.
Barr said he was preparing to review “both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign,” including the possibility that the government spied on the Trump campaign, reported The New York Times. Barr said, “I am not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at them”. He says he will restrict details that fall into four categories: grand jury material that is subject to federal secrecy rules, information that could reveal intelligence sources and methods, details that could compromise current investigations related to the Mueller probe and information that could impact the privacy of “peripheral” third parties. The result could be a heavily edited document with blacked out print on lots of pages.
The Attorney General also gave a few more details about the report under intense questioning from Democratic senators. He said he spoke with Mueller about why he did not reach a prosecutorial decision on obstruction of justice but did not disclose specifics about their conversation.
As for Trump, he says there is nothing to clear up, adding that he “won” and “totally exonerated,” reported The Hill. Speaking to reporters at the White House, the president reduced the investigation to an illegal “attempted coup.”
A comprehensive review of the Russia investigation will be completed around May or June by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz. This will include whether law enforcement officials abused their surveillance powers to spy on a Trump campaign aide, according to Barr. As part of his investigation, Horowitz has been looking into the early stages of the Russia inquiry, including wiretap applications, informants and whether any political bias against Trump influenced investigative decisions.
His findings could once again ruffle some feathers between the Justice Department and F.B.I since their clash over their handling of separate investigations into both Hillary Clinton’s emails and ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Barr already laid out what he described as Mueller’s bottom-line conclusions in a four-page letter, saying the special counsel did not find evidence to establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, nor that Trump obstructed justice. Those details are all that Congress and the public have received from the Justice Department about Mueller’s 22-month probe since it ended three weeks ago, and they have dramatically increased the curiosity for a glimpse at the special counsel’s report.