Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Barr says 'I think spying did occur' against Trump campaign

How Bill Barr could force Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings in the Mueller report fight PBS NewsHour
Celia Hoffman | 12 April, 2019, 00:00

Barr also said he expected to release a redacted version of Mueller's almost 400-page report next week - a slight change from the estimate he gave Tuesday, when he said the release would be within a week.

That letter said that Mr Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russian Federation and Mr Trump's associates, and that Mr Barr did not believe the evidence in the report was sufficient to prove the president had obstructed justice. Democrats have expressed concern that his version will hide wrongdoing by the president and are frustrated by the four-page summary letter he released last month that they say paints Mueller's findings in an overly favorable way for the president.

His comments risked inflaming Democratic concerns that Barr's views are overly in sync with Trump's and that he's determined to protect the president as he readies the release of a version of Mueller's report.

The Democrats are demanding that they see the full report and all its underlying evidence, though Trump and his Republican allies are pushing back.

Barr also revealed at the hearing that Mueller was given a chance to review the March 24 letter, bu he declined. He said he's open to eventually releasing some of the redacted material after consulting with congressional leaders, but he drew a line at releasing grand jury material, which would require court approval.

"Looks like Bob Mueller's team of 13 Trump Haters & Angry Democrats are illegally leaking information to the press", Trump tweeted Sunday, taking aim at Muller's team after headlines emerged that their report figures much worse for Trump than Barr's original summary made it seem.

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In addition to questions about the Mueller report, Barr is likely to be queried on the Justice Department lawsuit about the Affordable Care Act, as well as the Trump administration's immigration policies and family separation.

Barr said he did not believe Mueller's evidence was sufficient to prove that Trump had obstructed justice.

Barr wouldn't discuss the substance of Mueller's findings but did explain some of his process for receiving and reviewing the report and what to expect when it is released: He said the redactions will be colour-coded and accompanied by notes explaining the decision to withhold information. Bloomberg also reports that the AG is forming a team to investigate the Mueller investigation. Democrats have escalated criticism over Barr's handling of the document and say they will not accept any redactions. Barr promised that the report would be ready "within a week", but spoke about it in tones meant to imply that it was of no more general interest than, say, a USDA report on fertilizer levels. "So numerous questions here today have gone toward a grassy knoll conspiracy theory", Aderholt said. Mr Barr said he and deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein decided that the evidence was insufficient to establish obstruction. While Burr said he didn't know exactly what's in the report, he added, "but there are going to be things that maybe cause some people to say, 'Oh, gosh, I didn't know that existed'".

Republican Lindsey Graham, who's a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has already pledged to pursue the issue in the Judiciary Committee he leads. At one point in the House hearing, he tried to cut off any more questions on the subject. "I am saying I am concerned about it, and I am looking into it", he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey (D-NY) on Tuesday called Barr's handling of Mueller's report "unacceptable".

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