The US official told CNN that Barr's review is separate from the ongoing work being conducted by the Justice Department's internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, but could not detail its precise scope nor explain how the work of US Attorney John Huber, who was also tasked with investigating surveillance matters, factors in at this stage.
Barr also reminded lawmakers that the regulation he is under does not require him to release the report at all. Barr released a four-page letter summarizing the report two days later and said he would release a redacted version of the full report by mid-April, "if not sooner". A large stack of papers on the counter represents the 400-page Mueller report.
"It is like fundamentally rigging the game before we know what the actual score is", said Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, who worked with Barr on a telecommunications case in the 1990s. "This report is too important to all of us". The attorney general also announced that while the special counsel did not reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice throughout the probe, he and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein determined there was not sufficient evidence to prove Trump committed a crime. "As things stand now, I don't think that they will be redacted".
Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he had no concerns with Barr's handling of the report: "I think it really comes down to a question of whether you trust Bill Barr or not".
In the summary, Barr said that Mueller and his team did not establish conspiracy between Russian Federation and Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 election.
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"From a prosecutor's standpoint", he said, "the bottom line is binary, which is charges or no charges". After all, if the report is saying that Trump, if not completely innocent on obstructing justice, is innocent when it comes to Russian Federation, arguably the biggest talking point among liberal commentators and critics, why would Republicans who still support Trump want these specific findings kept hidden from public view?
LUCAS: Now, Barr also said that all of the redactions will have a note explaining why the information is being kept secret.
Barr does highlight Justice Department efforts to protect future elections from foreign interference, saying securing elections is a key issue for the agency. "And then I will engage with the chairman of both judiciary committees about that report and any further requests that they have".
Barr released to the public a four-page summary of its principal conclusions two days after Mueller submitted his report, but many Democrats have called for the full report to be released. Barr said Mueller was given the opportunity to review that letter but declined to do so.
The chairman of the subcommittee, Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano of NY, also said there were unanswered questions, including "serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report". NPR justice reporter Ryan Lucas joins me now.
Whatever portions of Robert Mueller's post-redacted report finally get released to the public in the coming week, they will not amount to the "complete and total exoneration" Donald Trump repeatedly promised they would.