WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr will defend his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and his decision that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute an obstruction of justice case on Wednesday.
Barr is likely to face a barrage of questions from Democrats at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over a letter revealed Tuesday night in which Mueller wrote to object to his characterization of the special counsel investigation in his four-page summary.
According to his prepared opening statement released late Tuesday, Barr will defend his characterization of Mueller’s investigation.
“The Special Counsel’s report demonstrates that there are many subsidiary considerations informing that prosecutorial judgment — including whether particular legal theories would extend to the facts of the case and whether the evidence is sufficient to prove one or another element of a crime,” Barr states in his prepared remarks.
“But at the end of the day, the federal prosecutor must decide yes or no. That is what I sought to address in my March 24 letter.”
Mueller’s letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post, stated that Barr’s summary of the probe “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel investigation. The criticism adds a whole new level of scrutiny for Barr, who was already facing sustained criticism for Democrats who had accused Barr of mischaracterizing Mueller’s findings.
Barr is making his first appearance before Congress Wednesday since the release of a redacted version of Mueller’s report last month. The attorney general’s relationship with Democrats has soured over the past two months, as Democrats accused him of misleading the public with his summary letter on Mueller’s conclusions, questioned his decision to clear the President on obstruction of justice and issued a subpoena to try to force him to provide Congress with the full, unredacted report.
Democrats have also slammed Barr for claiming at a Senate subcommittee hearing that the Trump campaign was spied on, as well as for holding a press conference the morning before the report was released.
Barr made reference to the political storm he’s facing over the Mueller report in his prepared remarks, and sought to distance himself from it.
“From here on, the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process,” his prepared remarks state. “As I am sure you agree, it is vitally important for the Department of Justice to stand apart from the political process and not to become an adjunct of it.”