By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers on Tuesday that he intends to release within a week the long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Within a week I will be in position to release that report to the public and then I will engage with the chairmen of both judiciary committees about that report, about any further requests that they have,” Barr said at a congressional hearing.
Mueller turned over his confidential report to Barr on March 22 following a 22-month-long probe into whether Donald Trump may have colluded with Russia during his 2016 presidential campaign and whether Trump later obstructed inquiries into the matter.
On March 24, Barr released a four-page letter to Congress laying out what he said were Mueller’s main findings. Barr is expected to submit a redacted copy of the report but Democrats have called for it to be released in full.
They have said they want to review the underlying evidence after Barr in his letter said that Mueller’s investigation did not establish collusion with Russia.
The hearing on Tuesday before a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee was meant to explore the Trump administration’s $29 billion fiscal 2020 budget request for the Justice Department.
But before Barr could speak a word, two of the panel’s top Democrats questioned him about his handling of the Mueller report and to what extent it will be publicly disclosed.
“This Congress voted unanimously to see that report,” the subcommittee’s chairman, Jose Serrano said, adding that he could not simply ignore the “elephant in the room.”
“The American people deserve to see the full Mueller report, and to be trusted to make their own determinations on the merits.”
Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the full House Appropriations Committee, said Barr’s four-page letter appears to “cherry-pick from the report to draw to most favorable conclusion possible for the president.”
“In many ways, your letter raises more questions than it answers,” she added.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alistair Bell)