Thursday 22 August 2019

Redacted, colour-coded copy of Mueller's report to be released 'within a week'

Acknowledged his quick work: Attorney General William Barr. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Acknowledged his quick work: Attorney General William Barr. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chris Riotta

US attorney general William Barr has told legislators they could expect a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report "within a week".

Mr Barr was speaking about the report - the findings of an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump's 2016 campaign - during a tense hearing on Capitol Hill that yielded more questions than answers.

The attorney general abruptly declined to answer further questions about the investigation halfway through the hearing, saying: "I've said what I was going to say about the report today."

He then refused to answer whether the White House had been briefed on any aspect of the special counsel's report.

"I'm not going to say anything more about it until the report is out," he added.

Democrats expressed frustration and concern with Mr Barr's handling of the report. Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, grilled him over how he managed to reduce the massive document into four pages just days after he had received it.

"Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it's more suspicious than impressive," she said.

Mr Barr acknowledged his quick work, claiming: "The thinking of the special counsel was not a mystery to the Department of Justice prior to the submission of the report."

He added that Mr Mueller's team was redacting the report before providing it to Congress.

The attorney general plans to produce a report during "this first go" with four types of redactions - relating to grand jury information, classified information that could reveal agency sources, information pertaining to ongoing prosecutions, and information that may implicate "privacy or reputational interests" of peripheral players.

The report will be colour-coded, according to Mr Barr, and will feature explanatory notes for all of his redactions. It remains unclear what legal grounds the attorney general has to place redactions for all four of his listed components, however.

Mr Barr added he would convene with Republican and Democratic leadership from the House Judiciary Committee after the report is released to determine whether they required any further details.

The attorney general was brought to the House committee to discuss Mr Trump's budget request for the Justice Department for 2020. This was the central focus of Mr Barr's opening statement and he did not at any point mention the Mueller report. At times, there appeared to be two testimonies taking place. As Democrats grilled the attorney general over the special counsel's conclusions, Republican lawmakers asked Mr Barr about his department's plans surrounding issues including human and sex trafficking, and immigration along the US-Mexico border. (© Independent News Service)

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