Mueller’s report could be out within a week, Barr says during hearing

The attorney general appeared in front of House Appropriations to discuss the Justice Department budget

Attorney General William Barr arrives to testifies before a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Department of Justice’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Tuesday that he will be in a position to release a version of the special counsel report “within a week,” with color-coded notes explaining why he redacted any information.

Barr, before an appropriations subcommittee, reiterated that he would withhold information from the report such as grand jury material or information that could reveal counterintelligence methods or interfere with ongoing prosecutions.

“I think from my standpoint, within a week, I will be in a position to release the report with the public,” Barr said. “And then I will engage with the chairman of both Judiciary committees about that report and any further requests that they have.”

[Democrats accuse Barr of bias in handling Mueller report, but what about Rosenstein?]

Barr also told lawmakers that any reports on criticism from Mueller’s team probably come because they wanted more information released than Barr’s four-page letter to Congress on March 24.

Barr on Mueller memo: ‘The letter speaks for itself’

Barr said he wanted to give the major conclusions of the investigation quickly to the public but was not intended to be a summary.

“I was not interested in putting out summaries, or trying to summarize, because I think any summary, regardless of who prepares it, not only runs the risk of being under-inclusive or over-inclusive, but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should wait for everything coming out at once,” Barr said.

Barr said he does not intend to send the full, unredacted copy of the Mueller report to the House Judiciary Committee. And he testified he had no intent to ask federal courts to release grand jury information in the report, and a recent court ruling stated that he cannot release that material.

[Barr makes no mention of Mueller ahead of Tuesday testimony]

Barr testified that most “fair-minded” people would agree the report needs the redactions he is making, but beyond the grand jury information he is willing to work with the judiciary committees. “I want to try to accommodate and satisfy their interests and at the same time uphold the law,” Barr said.

But he closed off much further discussion about the report, telling House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., that he was “not going to discuss it any further until the report is out.”

“I’ve said what I’m going to say about the report today,” Barr told the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee as he testified about the Justice Department’s budget.

The information he discussed most was the color coding: “We will color code the excisions from the report and we will provide explanatory notes explaining the basis for each redaction,” Barr said. “This process is going along very well and my original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands.”

Lowey, in her opening statement, characterizing Barr’s handling of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report so far as “unacceptable” and “more suspicious than impressive.”

And José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee chairman, called the report “the elephant in the room, and I’m not referring to my colleagues on the other side.” 

Watch: The back and forth on why Mueller’s report hasn’t been released yet

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