WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will hold news conference Thursday just before Congress receives a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016.
The news conference will be at 9:30 a.m. EDT, said Kerri Kupec. The report is expected to go to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon EDT and likely will be released to the public around the same time.
President Donald Trump, who has claimed "total exoneration" from a summary of the report, said Wednesday he may hold a news conference as well. He is scheduled to leave for a three-day weekend in South Florida by mid-afternoon Thursday, but he may speak with reporters upon departure.
"You’ll see a lot of strong things come out tomorrow," Trump told WMAL radio's Larry O'Connor show. "Attorney General Barr is going to be doing a press conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see.”
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Barr said he will keep parts of the 400-page Mueller report secret.
For weeks, Democrats demanded that Barr make the full, unredacted report public while Trump seized on its major conclusions to declare “complete vindication.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a "hoax" and a "witch hunt."
The long-anticipated report is the culmination of a remarkable inquiry into whether the president's aides collaborated with the Russian government's efforts to sway the election in his favor. That investigation plumbed deeply into Trump's campaign and his administration, and while prosecutors concluded that nothing they unearthed constitutes a crime, the accumulation of evidence the government is set to release could subject Trump to further scrutiny.
Mueller's investigation did not establish that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia's efforts to sway the election. But investigators pointedly opted not to make a determination about whether Trump had sought to obstruct their work, saying they had gathered evidence "on both sides" of that question, according to a four-page letter Barr provided to Congress last month summarizing the report's conclusions.
Barr and Rosenstein told lawmakers that based on the evidence Mueller gathered, they did not believe Trump's conduct violated obstruction laws.
Trump promptly claimed "complete and total exoneration." Barr's summary, however, said that while Mueller's report does not conclude there was obstruction, it also "does not exonerate" the president on that issue.
Democrats in Congress are pressing for access to a complete version of Mueller's final report, including secret grand jury testimony that is expected to stripped out of the public report. Senior lawmakers have said that Barr's decision to release only a redacted version all but assures a prolonged fight in Congress over the investigation's most sensitive contents, including those that did not lead to criminal charges.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that he was "deeply troubled" by a New York Times report indicating that Justice officials had briefed the White House on the contents of the report in advance of its public release.
White House and Justice officials declined to comment on The Times account.
Nadler also said he was concerned that Justice was planning to transmit the Mueller report to Congress following Barr's news conference.
"This is wrong," he said.
I’m deeply troubled by reports that the WH is being briefed on the Mueller report AHEAD of its release. Now, DOJ is informing us we will not receive the report until around 11/12 tomorrow afternoon — AFTER Barr’s press conference. This is wrong. #ReleaseTheReport https://t.co/bR50HhGJ0i— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 17, 2019
Barr has said Justice officials, including members of Mueller's team, have been working to remove secret grand-jury evidence, classified information, material related to ongoing investigations spun off from the special counsel's probe and personal information about individuals who were not charged as part of the inquiry.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors told a District of Columbia judge overseeing the criminal case against former Trump adviser Roger Stone that they have removed material from the Mueller report regarding Stone so has not to interfere with the pending proceedings in which the flamboyant Republican political operative is charged with obstruction and lying to Mueller's investigators.
After the redacted Mueller report is made public, prosecutors said that they would provide a "limited" number of lawmakers with a version of the report that includes the material related to the Stone case, according to court documents file Wednesday.
Meanwhile, ahead of the report, the White House insisted that it would exonerate Trump.
“Regardless of how Democrats and the media try to twist the report, the outcome is still the same: No collusion, no obstruction - complete and total exoneration,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.
More on Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's report:
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: AG William Barr to hold news conference Thursday on before Mueller report goes to Congress