Attorney General William Barr is preparing to testify on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, which will be his first appearance in front of lawmakers ever since he revealed his report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election. According to media outlets that have received leaks from those that are close to Mueller’s team, top Democrats have made it clear that Barr has a few things that he needs to explain.
The hearing, which will be conducted by the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, is set to being at 9:30 Tuesday morning. The hearing is expected to cover several questions on routine budgetary concerns. It was also scheduled to discuss Barr’s spending request for the Justice Department for the 2020 fiscal year.
According to Fox News, the four-page summary of Mueller’s report that Barr issued will be the main concern of the hearing. Democrat José Serrano of New York, the chairman of the subcommittee, will show his doubt in Barr’s actions during his opening comments. Serrano will say: “In extremely quick fashion, you turned a 300-plus page report into a 4-page letter that supposedly summarized [Mueller’s] findings.”
While Serrano was speaking to Fox News on Monday, he stated that even though Barr will be questioned about appropriations, it would be “almost impossible” to ignore the Mueller findings during the hearing. He also showed his concern that Barr would give Congress the Mueller report with “too many scratch-outs” in it.
In the letter Barr wrote to lawmakers, he stated that Mueller wasn’t able to find evidence that proved that the Trump-Russia collusion actually happened, even though the Russians attempted to get involved with the Trump campaign. It also stated that Mueller didn’t exonerate Trump on the issue of obstruction of justice. Explaining that Mueller had provided enough evidence on both sides and left the determination up to them, Barr and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cleared President Trump of all criminal culpability.
According to a statement prepared by Serrano, “Last week, the New York Times reported that the Special Counsel’s office had already created summary documents that were ignored in your letter, and that some investigators within the Special Counsel’s office felt that your summary understates the level of malfeasance by the President and several of his campaign and White House advisors.” He will continue by saying: “The American people have been left with many unanswered questions; serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report.”
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, fired back last week during an interview with Howard Kurtz from Fox News’ “MediaBuzz.” During the interview, Giuliani said: “That leak really indicates all you need to know about Mueller’s prosecutors. Leaking like that…that’s been the biggest canard in this investigation.”
According to her prepared statement, Nita M. Lowey, the chairwoman for the House Appropriations Committee, will also classify Barr’s dealing with the report as “unacceptable.” During the hearing, Lowey will say: “I must say, it is extraordinary to evaluate hundreds of pages of evidence, legal documents, and findings based on a 22-month long inquiry and make definitive legal conclusions in less than 48 hours. Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it is more suspicious than impressive.”
Last week, the DOJ came to Barr’s defense in a statement. “Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the Attorney General decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process,” said the Justice Department statement. The statement also indicated that every single page of Mueller’s report was marked that it may contain highly sensitive grand jury material “and therefore could not immediately be released.” On Thursday, while speaking about the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential process, an official from the Justice Department stated that the summary of Mueller’s report included information for the grand jury, making it impossible to quickly release the documents.
According to information received by Fox News, the hearing on Tuesday may also include talks about Trump’s decision not to stand up for ObamaCare. They may also talk about finding a solution for gun violence. Following Serrano’s opening statement will be comments from the top Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Robert Aderholt from Alabama. Aderholt apparently told Fox News on Monday that he’s hoping that the hearing will focus on appropriations, rather than the Mueller report.