The chairs of five key House committees called on Attorney General William Barr Wednesday evening to cancel a planned press conference at which Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, intend to discuss the report by special counsel Robert Mueller on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in 2016.
Barr scheduled the press conference for 9:30 a.m. Thursday. He plans to release a redacted version of the report to Congress later in the morning. Trump announced the press conference, and said he might hold one of his own as well.
“This press conference, which apparently will not include special counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it,” the five Democratic chairs said in a statement. It was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, Committee on Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.
Earlier, Nadler called a news conference to challenge Barr’s handling of the report. “The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of investigation at the heart of the Mueller report,” he said.
Nadler said Barr was not “letting the facts of the report speak for themselves,” and added that the Judiciary Committee was “not satisfied” with receiving a redacted version of the report.
The Justice Department announced Wednesday evening that it would release the redacted Mueller report between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Thursday, approximately 90 minutes after Barr’s press conference. None of the members of the media attending the news conference will have read the document ahead of Barr’s event.
As news of Barr’s press conference broke, Democrats took to Twitter to criticize what they viewed as an effort to spin its findings and exonerate the president.
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
The process is poisoned before the report is even released.
Barr shouldn’t be spinning the report at all, but it’s doubly outrageous he’s doing it before America is given a chance to read it.
Barr doesn’t want Americans to make up their own mind. What is he so afraid of? https://t.co/v6hKz3IBNz
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 17, 2019
Just been informed by DOJ that we’ll receive Mueller’s report only after Barr gives a press conference.
Once again, Barr wants to shape the public’s perception of the report.
This is on top of reports DOJ secretly briefed the White House.
This is not justice. Just PR.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 17, 2019
The dueling press conferences came after the New York Times reported Wednesday that Justice Department officials have held numerous conversations with White House lawyers about Mueller’s conclusions. Trump’s lawyers, in turn, are preparing their own rebuttal of the special counsel’s findings.
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