House Democrats blast attorney general’s press conference, call on Mueller to testify

House Democrats are firing back at Attorney General William Barr’s decision to hold a press conference on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, before actually releasing that report to the public.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Barr’s decision to hold the presser in advance of the report’s release is yet more evidence of his “regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report,” calling it an “indefensible plan to spin” its release.

Schumer and Pelosi said Barr’s actions have “resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality,” and called for Mueller himself to testify in a public hearing.

Mueller’s report, investigating President Donald Trump’s campaign’s links with Russian election meddling, will be delivered to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday and to the public later in the afternoon. Congress — and the media — are anxious as to what they can glean from the non-redacted portions of the roughly 400 report.

But before that happens, Barr will be holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. EST at the Justice Department, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. This is at least 1.5 hours before Congress will see hard copies of the report.

Justice Department officials have briefed the White House on the conclusions of the Mueller report, according to a report in the New York Times Wednesday evening.

Barr has been chipping away at his own credibility, and his congressional testimony didn’t help

 

In the statement, Pelosi and Schumer also called Barr’s April 10 testimony before Congress “irresponsible.” In that testimony, Barr accused the FBI, under the Obama administration, of “spying” on the Trump campaign, but declined to say what he was basing that statement on.

Barr, who was appointed by Trump in February (replacing Jeff Sessions, who was publicly attacked by the president for recusing himself from the investigation), has already issued his take on Mueller’s report two days after it was officially submitted to him. In that summary, he concluded that not only was there no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but that the evidence gathered by the Mueller team was insufficient for an obstruction of justice case against the president.

Trump initially opposed the release of the report, and has called the entire investigation a “Witch hunt,” despite also having claimed that the report totally exonerated him.

Mueller’s 22-month long investigation has resulted in dozens of criminal charges being filed against entities and individuals tied to the president, including his attorney, Michael Cohen, and his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Read more: thinkprogress.org