Democratic members of Congress raised concerns about the timing of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, blasting the Justice Department for preparing to release the report only after a press conference by Attorney General William Barr.
Barr will speak to the press about the report Thursday morning before it’s delivered to Capitol Hill, where it’s expected between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a senior Justice Department official.
“The central concern here is that Attorney General Barr is not allowing the facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves but is trying to bake in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Standing alongside Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Ted Deutch, Val Demings and Madeleine Dean at a press conference Wednesday evening, Nadler accused Barr of staging a “media campaign” on behalf of the president.
The Justice Department said Barr will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. at department headquarters, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in attendance. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office confirmed that neither Mueller nor anyone from his team will be at the press conference.
Following the press conference, the report will be delivered to lawmakers on CDs and released online shortly afterward, a senior Justice Department official said.
“You’ll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow. Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference,” President Trump said earlier in an interview with the “Larry O’Connor Show” on WMAL. Mr. Trump also said he might hold a press conference after Barr and called Barr a “fantastic attorney general” who has “grabbed it by the horn.”
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the decision to hold a press conference was made by the Justice Department, and not by the president.
In a court filing Wednesday, federal prosecutors said some information in the Mueller report about Roger Stone’s case — which is under a gag order — will be redacted. The former Trump campaign adviser and confidant is slated to start trial in November.
Prosecutors added that the Justice Department is planning to share a copy of the report “without certain redactions” to a “limited number” of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They said this copy will be accessible to a small group of Members of Congress at an “appropriate setting,” without specifying a time or date.
The White House is ready to take the offensive as soon as the report comes out. The president’s personal attorneys have prepared a rebuttal to emphasize there were no charges of collusion or obstruction against the president or anyone else.
At most, the document could shed light on Russia’s 2016 election interference and Mr. Trump’s efforts to blunt the investigation. But a heavily redacted version could fuel a bitter partisan feud over the public’s right to see the results of Mueller’s work.
Barr has promised transparency, but said he will redact grand jury material, classified material, information that could impact ongoing investigations and evidence against people not criminally charged. But Democrats will demand the full report be given to them.
Paula Reid and Clare Hymes contributed reporting.