The attorney general, who had been against President Donald Trump’s understanding of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation, was bombarded with unremitting questions during his Congressional testimony. On Tuesday, William P Barr appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to testify about the Mueller probe, which recently concluded after two years.
During his hearing on the attorney general nomination, William Barr had rejected Trump’s characterization of the Mueller investigation as the “witch hunt”. Besides, he had vowed to be transparent, and not do or “be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong”.
On March 22, Mueller and his team concluded the investigations into the Russian meddling in 2016 presidential elections. Two days later on March 24, the attorney general presented a summary through a letter to the Congress, claiming no conspiracy between the 2016 Trump campaign and Moscow.
The letter was quick to pull criticism, after the two-year long investigations had almost created an impression of a deceit president. The Democrats denied to believe his interpretation of the Mueller report, and called for him to release it in entirety. Moreover, the newly appointed attorney general, who has repeatedly assured transparency, was put under the allegations of working for Trump’s interests.
In the testimony on April 9, William Barr was questioned about his management of Mueller’s key findings, his intentions of releasing the report, and about how he plans to deal with the issue of redacted information. Democrats on Capitol Hill pressed Barr on what one congressional leader called “the elephant in the room”.
Representative José E. Serrano (D-NY) said that Barr’s summary has left several Americans with “unanswered questions”. He stated that they have “serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report”.
While the relentless questions were being fired at the attorney general, the given date of mid-April to release the full report was preponed. Barr assured to release the redacted version of the Mueller report to the Congress and the people within a week.
As per the reports, the previously-mentioned four categories of concealed information would be color-coded. However, the attorney general has stated to have plans of providing explanatory documentation justifying whatever he censors in the report. Besides, he also made it clear that first look of the redacted report would be presented to the public at large.
“This process is going along very well and my original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands,” William Barr said. “And so I think that from my standpoint, within a week I will be in a position to release the report to the public.”
Democrats, as they got an opportunity to condemn the attorney general in person for the first time, also casted their doubts over the little time taken to summarize the Mueller investigation findings.
Representative Nita M Lowey (D-NY) called his operations in the report “unacceptable”. Citing Barr’s former stint in the post during 1990s, she said, “Even for someone who has done this job before.” The Chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee argued that “it is more suspicious than impressive”.
Attorney general Barr, in his defense, highlighted that he had asked Robert Mueller to review the four-page summary letter that he provided, but the special counsel turned down the offer. Barr said that the “bottom line conclusions” were simply “binary”, where he has tried using Mueller’s exact words from the reports, as much as he could.
William Barr was also asked whether the White House has seen or been briefed about the unprecedented portions of the report; the question which he plainly refused to answer. “I’ve said what I’m going to say about the report today,” he said. “I’ve issued three letters about it. I was willing to discuss the historic information of how the report came to me and my decision on Sunday.”
Apart from the people, majority of the people has only criticized Barr’s summary of the Robert Mueller report, mainly because of the perception that the investigations had created. As the attorney general will soon be releasing the entire report, it would clear the air on several doubts that have remained regarding the conclusion of the probe. Will the Democrats’ demand of full report on Mueller investigation bring any change to the Barr’s summary?
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