AG William Barr testifies in House hearing

Nora Nguyen
April 14, 2019

"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal", Barr told senators at a budget hearing that, like a similar House hearing Tuesday, was dominated by questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

The topic of the House appropriations subcommittee hearing is the Justice Department's budget, and Barr's prepared remarks sent to the committee on Monday focused on funding requests for immigration enforcement and to combat violent crime and opioid addiction, not mentioning Mueller's report at all.

The Mueller report is not the goal of the meeting, and in a prepared statement released ahead of the session Barr does not mention it.

The attorney general reiterated that he would try to make public as much of the Mueller report as possible and would rely "on my own discretion" during the redaction process. He has said that he did not intend for his four-page summary of Mueller's main conclusions to be an "exhaustive recounting" of his work and that he could not immediately release the entire report because it included grand jury material and other sensitive information that needed to be redacted.

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Barr said he gave the Mueller team a chance to review his summary of the Mueller report, but they declined.

Attorney General William Barr declared Wednesday he thinks "spying did occur" against Donald Trump's presidential campaign, suggesting the origins of the Russian Federation investigation may have been mishandled in remarks that aligned him with the president at a time when Barr's independence is under scrutiny.

"I haven't seen the referrals yet from Congressman Nunes, but obviously if there is a predicate for an investigation it will be conducted", Barr said.

On his program Tuesday, Limbaugh said Democrats are being "driven mad", and they can not accept that there is no Trump-Russia collusion nor a conspiracy at the Justice Department to cover it up. Specifically, Barr is looking into the standard for opening counterintelligence investigations.

William Barr says 'spying did occur' on Trump campaign during Obama era
Barr said he can't do that, but did promise senators more access to the investigation when it comes to the grand jury material. Trump, speaking to reporters Wednesday at the White House, decreed it an "illegal investigation" conducted by "dirty cops".

Washington Post political columnist Paul Waldman wrote Tuesday that what's coming is "a public relations battle in which the attorney general is a key player". "I suspect that they probably wanted more put out", he said.

Last week news reports suggested that members of Mueller's team are frustrated with Barr's letter, which they saw as oversimplifying their more complicated findings. "So I think it's important in our oversight role to release the full report to Congress". On Sunday, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler slammed Barr as "a biased defender of the administration"-comments that came just days after his committee voted to authorize him to subpoena the Justice Department for the full, unredacted Mueller report in case the public version proves unsatisfactory".

"We've done everything we could for the last weeks and weeks to try to reach an accommodation with the attorney general under which we would see the report and the underlying evidence", Nadler said.

Barr's explosive testimony marked his Capitol Hill appearance since revealing the central findings of Mueller's investigation.

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