Democratic leadership in Congress has slammed attorney general William Barr for his “irresponsible” and “partisan” handling of the Mueller report, and has demanded public testimony regarding the investigation into Donald Trump as soon as possible.
In a joint statement ahead of Mr Barr’s planned press conference and the report’s expected release on Thursday, speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer demanded that the attorney speak truth to the American people.
“Attorney general Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality,” the statement read.
The statement continued: “We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
Mr Barr’s planned press conference comes roughly a month after the Justice Department received the Mueller report from the special counsel’s office, and after the attorney general released a four page letter to Congress summarising the report.
In that letter, Mr Barr wrote that the investigation had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign. The attorney general also said in that letter that the special counsel had failed to reach a conclusion on the question of Mr Trump’s obstruction of justice.
The letter was immediately decried by Democrats in Congress, who questioned whether Mr Barr was accurately describing the evidence against the president, or if he was helping to spin the media narrative around the report.
Mr Barr subsequently testified before Congress, where he largely refused to divulge further details about the Mueller report, but offers his opinion that the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign.
The attorney general’s office also reportedly briefed the White House on the Mueller report before its release to Congress, leading to further concerns that the Justice Department was not acting independently.