AG Barr to hold press conference Thursday on Mueller report
Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to hold a press conference on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report Thursday — before the Justice Department’s redacted version of the report is due for release.
The Justice Department said Barr’s press conference will be held at the department at 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, and President Donald Trump on Wednesday floated the possibility that he too would hold a press conference after Barr. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017, will be in attendance as well.
The details taken together show, in part, how the Trump administration will set the stage for the release of the redacted version of the report, nearly a month after the conclusion of the special counsel investigation. A source familiar with the report told CNN Wednesday that the publicly released version of Mueller’s report is expected to have relatively minimal redactions in the section on obstruction of justice.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening the report will have an in-depth look at Mueller’s investigation into potential obstruction of justice by Trump. The report will show Mueller could not determine Trump’s intent and some of his actions could have innocent explanations, the Post reported.
The spokesperson for Mueller’s office said the special counsel and members of his prosecutorial team would not be in attendance at Barr’s press conference. Peter Carr, the spokesman, will be there, Carr said.
Carr, who also works as a spokesman for the Justice Department’s criminal division, declined to comment on the reason why Mueller would not attend.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who has repeatedly criticized Barr’s handling of the scheduled release, said on Wednesday that he had learned from the Justice Department that the report would not be released until after Barr’s press conference.
“This is wrong,” he tweeted, adding to a previous tweet questioning why Barr was holding the press conference at all.
Nadler’s tweet also mentioned being “deeply troubled” that the Justice Department had briefed the White House on the Mueller report ahead of its release. The New York Times reported earlier Wednesday that the department had discussed the report with the White House on several occasions in the lead-up to Thursday.
Later Wednesday, Nadler held a press conference in New York and accused Barr of “waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump.”
“Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two year investigation,” Nadler said, pointing to the news conference scheduled for Thursday, the four-page summary he sent to Congress last month and Barr reportedly withholding summaries intended by Mueller’s team for public viewing as examples.
“The central concern here is that the 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,” Nadler added.
Multiple congressional sources told CNN the Justice Department had informed congressional committees that they would be sent the redacted report on discs in the 11 a.m. ET hour. A copy of the redacted Mueller report will be posted on the special counsel website after it has been delivered to Congress.
Nadler later joined four other Democratic committee chairs in demanding Barr cancel his scheduled press conference, calling it “unnecessary and inappropriate.” The committee members objected to the Justice Department reportedly briefing the White House on Mueller’s work before Congress
“There is no legitimate reason for the Department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report,” the committee chairs wrote in a joint statement Wednesday night.
“He should let the full report speak for itself,” the lawmakers added. “The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.”
Trump addressed the looming release on Wednesday, offering that he might take questions on it after Barr’s scheduled press conference.
“Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference, maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see,” Trump said in an interview with WMAL Radio’s Larry O’Connor.
A source familiar with Barr’s plans told CNN that the attorney general is expected to provide an overview of the report, explain his thinking and address process questions.
Court docs: Justice Department preparing two versions of report
In a court filing related to the case against Trump associate Roger Stone, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday there would be two versions of the redacted special counsel report: one released to the public and one with fewer redactions that will eventually go to a limited number of members of Congress.
Prosecutors said some of the redactions would be because of the gag order in the Stone case and that those redactions would be made so as not to potentially prejudice a jury.
Barr has said some information in the report would be redacted as it related to grand jury material, classified information, details about ongoing investigations and material affecting peripheral third parties.
Justice Department report anticipated Thursday
Barr said previously that the Mueller report was nearly 400 pages long. In a four-page summary following the conclusion of the Mueller investigation last month, Barr said the report was the product of interviews with about 500 witnesses.
Barr said in that summary that the Mueller investigation did not establish that there was a criminal conspiracy between any Trump campaign associates and Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 election. He also said Mueller’s report goes through the question of whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, but that the special counsel did not make a determination on the matter. Barr said he and Rosenstein concluded Mueller’s evidence was “not sufficient” to support obstruction by Trump.
CNN’s Allie Malloy, Kaitlan Collins, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.