Testifying for the first time since releasing Mueller’s report, Attorney General William Barr said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether President Donald Trump had tried to obstruct justice, and that he felt compelled to step in with his own judgment that the president had committed no crime. Barr also complained that Mueller’s report did not, as requested, clearly flag sensitive material, creating weeks of work for the Justice Department as it moved to redact grand jury material that was not intended for the public.
Barr’s public defense of his actions rebutted complaints by Mueller, expressed in a letter and phone call, that the attorney general had not adequately portrayed the investigation’s findings. The revelation of that letter hours earlier amplified allegations from Democrats that Barr had spun the investigation’s findings in Trump’s favor.
Barr’s appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee gave the attorney general his most extensive opportunity to explain the department’s actions, including his press conference held before the report’s release, and for him to repair a reputation bruised by allegations that he’s the Republican president’s protector.
Barr defended his decision to step in and clear the president of obstruction of justice after Mueller presented evidence on both sides but didn’t reach a conclusion.
We recap the latest from the hearing.
With files from the Associated Press.