US attorney general to release redacted Mueller report ‘within a week’

Special counsel declined offer to review summary before publication, Barr says

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Erin Schaff/New York Times

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Erin Schaff/New York Times

 

A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will be released “within a week”, US attorney general William Barr told a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Mr Barr was testifying before the House of Representatives appropriation committee in a scheduled appearance to discuss the 2020 federal budget. But much of the questioning focused on Mr Mueller’s recently-completed investigation.

Mr Barr reiterated his pledge to release the full report – with redactions – by the middle of this month.

“This process is going along very well and my original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands,” he said. “And so I think that, from my standpoint, within a week I will be in a position to release the report to the public.”

Mr Barr also disclosed that he gave Mr Mueller and his team the opportunity to review his four-page summary of the report, which the attorney general released last month, but the offer was declined.

Mr Barr was questioned aggressively by Democrats about his decision to summarise Mr Mueller’s findings rather than publish the full report. “The American people have been left with many unanswered questions; serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report,” said Democratic congressman Jose Serrano. “I think it would strike a serious blow to our system and, yes, to our democracy, if that report is not fully seen.”

Mr Barr’s summary of Mr Mueller’s report on his 22-month investigation said that the special counsel had found no evidence of conspiracy between members of President Donald Trump’s team and Russia. However, it said that Mr Mueller had come to no conclusion as to whether the US president had obstructed justice or not.

Mr Barr told the appropriations committee on Tuesday that he would colour-code sections of the report, explaining why certain information had been redacted.

Tax returns

Separately, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin revealed that officials in his department had spoken with the White House about the possible release of the Mr Trump’s tax returns before the chairman of the ways and means committee, Richard Neal, requested the returns last week.

Speaking during testimony to a House appropriations subcommittee, Mr Mnuchin said he had not personally discussed the president’s tax returns, but treasury officials had.

“I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational,” he said. “We had obviously read in the press that we were expecting this. I personally wasn’t involved in those conversations.”

Mr Mnuchin criticised Democrats’ move to request Mr Trump’s tax returns. “I am sure there are many prominent Democrats who are relieved that when [Texan Republican] Kevin Brady was chairman of the committee he didn’t request specific returns,” Mr Mnuchin said.

As tension between the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives and the White House continued on Tuesday, Mr Trump was preparing to travel to Texas on Wednesday for a series of engagements.

The US president is due to visit Houston and San Antonio, amid a renewed focus by the administration on immigration issues. In a sign that Mr Trump is poised to take a tougher stance on immigration policy, the White House has announced the departure of key officials in the department of homeland security in recent days, including the head of the department, Kirstjen Nielsen.