Barr’s Opening Statement Addresses Accused Mishandling Of Mueller Report

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Attorney General William Barr is slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

His opening statement for the hearing is divided into four categories addressing various aspects of his handling of the redacted Mueller report: preparation for public release, bottom-line conclusions, Russian interference and and obstruction of justice.

In it, he hits some of Democrats’ biggest points of contention, such as his decision to allow President Donald Trump’s attorneys to review the report before he released it to Congress. That decision in particular was one of the catalysts for a letter sent out by Senate Democrats on Tuesday, asking for the Department of Justice’s inspector general to investigate Barr.

“Review by the President’s personal counsel was a matter of fairness in light of my
decision to make public what would otherwise have been a confidential report, and it was consistent with the practice followed for years under the now-expired Ethics in Government Act,” Barr wrote in his statement.

He also addresses perhaps his most controversial decision in handling the report, which was to convey Special Counsel Robert’s Mueller’s conclusion about the collusion question and, in lieu of a definitive call from the special counsel, to decide himself that there was no obstruction of justice in his March 24 letter to Congress.

“The Special Counsel’s report demonstrates that there are many subsidiary considerations informing that prosecutorial judgment—including whether particular legal theories would extend to the facts of the case and whether the evidence is sufficient to prove one or another element of a crime,” Barr wrote. “But at the end of
the day, the federal prosecutor must decide yes or no. That is what I sought to address in my March 24 letter.”

Barr is sure to be hammered on this point by committee Democrats, especially in light of a letter from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Barr that was leaked Tuesday night, in which the special counsel frets that Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.” Mueller was reportedly especially concerned with the coverage of Barr’s obstruction conclusion (which he, Mueller, never reached), and which President Donald Trump clung to especially fiercely with constant Twitter refrains of “no collusion, no obstruction!”

Read Barr’s full statement here:

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