House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are no longer interested to hear what Attorney General Bill Barr has to say about the Mueller report. They now want special counsel Robert Mueller to testify in front of Congress “as soon as possible.”
“Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24 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,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement on Thursday morning.
On Thursday morning, Barr told reporters he has no objections to Mueller testifying in front of Congress, given that Mueller is still technically a Department of Justice employee.
Democrats are particularly outraged that Barr delivered a press conference on Thursday morning before the Mueller report is released, drawing conclusions in front of the public without giving Congress or the public time to read the report for themselves. They are also concerned about how much in the report could be redacted by the attorney general’s office.
Barr’s press conference came nearly a month after the attorney general released a four-page summary last month that contained very few direct quotes from Mueller’s own report. The attorney general’s summary concluded President Donald Trump didn’t collude with Russia, and “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Though Mueller did not make a determination on obstruction of justice, Barr himself, in coordination with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, made a decision that the actions of the president did not qualify as criminal obstruction of justice.
Democrats are suspicious of Barr’s decision on obstruction, especially because his report quoted Mueller saying, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” They now want to hear Mueller explain the report in his own words, rather than Barr’s interpretation of them.
“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,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote. “The American people deserve to hear the truth.”