11:39, May 01 304 0 abajournal.com

2019-05-01 11:39:08
Barr defends his summary of Mueller report after special counsel’s objections

Barr and Mueller

Attorney General William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Attorney General William Barr defended his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Barr’s testimony comes amid revelations that Mueller objected to Barr’s summary of the Mueller investigation’s principal findings, released March 24. The full report, with redactions, was released April 18.

Barr said he decided to state “the bottom-line conclusions” as the public awaited the redacted version of the full report. “We were not trying to summarize the 410-page report,” he said.

Barr said he offered Mueller a chance to review his summary of the report’s principal conclusions, but that Mueller declined.

Barr had written in his summary of the report’s principal conclusions that the special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Barr also said in the summary that Mueller had not drawn a conclusion one way or the other as to whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded, however, that the evidence was insufficient to establish obstruction, and that conclusion “is not based on the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.”

In a March 27 letter to Barr released Wednesday, Mueller said Barr’s March 24 summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” Mueller wrote. “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The letter said Mueller’s office communicated its concern on March 25, the day after Barr released his summary. The special counsel said it had supplied to Barr a redacted version of the introduction and executive summary for each section of Mueller’s report.

The letter asked Barr to release the redacted materials to Congress and the public, but Barr declined to do so, the New York Times reports.

Barr explained in his testimony to Congress that Mueller’s principal concern was not with Barr’s summary, but with the media’s reporting.

Barr confirmed Wednesday that Mueller wanted him to release executive summaries of each report volume, but Barr said he wasn’t interested in doing that. “I told Bob that I was not interested in putting out summaries and I wasn’t going to put out the report piecemeal,” Barr said.