Mueller report: Attorney general William Barr set for grilling by Democrats amid calls for special counsel to testify

Clark Mindock

Attorney general William Barr is set to appear before Congress for the first time since he received Robert Mueller's Russia report — and Democrats say they plan on grilling him on it as soon as they have the opportunity.

The eyes of Washington - and of observers around the world - have been fixed on Mr Barr since last month when the special counsel submitted his report to the justice department after nearly two years of investigating Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Democrats have already indicated that they are planning a push beyond Mr Barr’s testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, and say they want to bring in Mr Mueller himself at some point to explain his findings.

“In order to ask special counsel Mueller the right questions, the committee must receive the special counsel’s full report and hear from attorney general Barr about that report on May 2. We look forward to hearing from Mr Mueller at the appropriate time,” tweeted House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler.

Shortly after Mr Barr received the Mueller report last month, he penned a short letter to Congress indicating that Mr Mueller’s team had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In that letter, Mr Barr also said he had determined not to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.

In the time since, though, reports have surfaced indicating that members of Mr Mueller’s team felt as though the attorney general let the president off easy, leading to demands among Democrats for the report to be released in full.

“Certainly the Mueller report will come up," congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, told Fox News, while discussing Mr Barr’s planned testimony.

“I may ask about that, but probably not,” the Pennsylvania politician continued. “Until the actual redacted version of the Mueller report comes out, we’re all just kind of stabbing around in the dark about what’s going to be left out.”

Mr Barr’s visit to Capitol Hill comes as the justice department’s budget is being considered in Washington, although that process is likely to be overshadowed by the Russia questions that have captivated the US for much of the Trump presidency.

While Mr Barr can expect some tough questioning from Democrats in the House and Senate appropriations committees, the forums are not known for the kinds of political grandstanding that was seen during the testimony of other key players in the Russia investigation like Michael Cohen or James Comey.

The House’s committee is chaired by Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is rarely featured in national press reports. Her Republican counterpart is representative Kay Granger.

The Senate committee, meanwhile, is chaired by senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. The top democrat on that committee is senator Patrick Leahy.

Mr Barr has indicated he plans on sending a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress sometime later this month, and that the Justice Department is currently working to ensure that sensitive information — like grand jury information and information related to ongoing investigations — is redacted.

It is unclear how satisfied democrats in Congress will be with the report, and many have already made demands for the entire, unredacted report.