Democrats in Washington are accusing U.S. Attorney General William Barr of attempting to shield President Donald Trump from negative findings in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign by calling a press conference just before releasing a redacted version of the report to Congress and the public.
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Washington time on April 18 to present his interpretation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly 400-page report on his Russia investigation.
Justice Department officials say that after Barr answers questions about his “process,” he plans to deliver the report to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon Washington time.
The redacted version of the report will then be posted on the special counsel’s website.
Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Barr had "thrown out his credibility & the DOJ's independence with his single-minded effort to protect" Trump.
The Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “The process is poisoned before the report is even released."
"Barr shouldn't be spinning the report at all, but it's doubly outrageous he's doing it before America is given a chance to read it," Schumer said.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and called the process "an attempted coup" aimed at taking down his presidency.
Trump said in a radio interview on April 17 that he may hold a news conference of his own after Barr completes his on April 18.
Mueller investigated whether Trump’s campaign coordinated or conspired with Russia to win the election and if Trump or his associates unlawfully attempted to obstruct justice by trying to hinder the investigation.
Mueller’s nearly 400-page report was completed on March 22, and Barr sent Congress a summary of the findings two days later in which he said the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Barr also wrote that the evidence uncovered in the probe was "not sufficient" to establish that Trump had obstructed justice.
Trump said after Barr’s summary was released on March 24 that he thinks the report amounts to “total exoneration.”
But Barr’s summary directly quoted only one sentence from Mueller’s report.
It said: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it does not exonerate him.”
Barr’s summary did not detail what Mueller learned about several Trump associates who had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 campaign and postelection transition period.
It also did not explain why several of Trump associates lied to federal investigators or Congress during the investigation.
Since Barr released his summary, Democratic lawmakers have been pressuring him to make Mueller’s entire report available to Congress and the public.
Barr is expected to face scrutiny over how much of the document he blacks out and whether Mueller’s report is accurately reflected in the letter he released last month.
Barr has said he is withholding grand jury and classified information along with information related to ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged “peripheral” people.
Democrats say they will fight in court for the disclosure of additional information from the report. They say they are ready to submit subpoenas if the report is heavily redacted.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said on April 17 that he will “probably find it useful” to call Mueller and members of his team to testify after reading the version of the report that Barr releases.
In Moscow on April 18, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the release of Mueller’s report as unimportant.
“This is not an issue for us,” Peskov said. “It is not a thing that interests us or causes us concern.”
“All the reports on the matter that have been released so far contain nothing but cursory statements,” Peskov said, adding that the Kremlin has “more interesting and important things to do.”
U.S. Attorney General Under Fire Before Release Of Redacted Mueller Report