William Barr Says He Couldn't Release Mueller Report Without Clearing Trump Of Obstruction

The attorney general, facing criticism for spinning the report's findings, will tell senators the Justice Department should "stand apart from the political process."

WASHINGTON ― Attorney General William Barr will tell members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he had to make “a prosecutorial judgment” and clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice before releasing a public version of Robert Mueller’s special counsel report.

Barr, in prepared remarks released Tuesday night, said that “it would not have been appropriate” to release the volume of Mueller’s report that focused on the question of obstruction “without making a prosecutorial judgment” of his own. Taking into consideration the Justice Department’s longstanding view that the president cannot be indicted while in office, Mueller’s report did not state outright that Trump committed a crime but rather laid out extensive evidence of Trump attempting to influence the Mueller investigation and criminal investigations of his associates.

But Barr, in counsel with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, concluded that the evidence established by Mueller’s investigation was “not sufficient” to support an obstruction of justice prosecution.

Barr has come under fire for mischaracterizing the Mueller report ahead of its public release. His March 24 letter to Congress selectively quoted phrases from the Mueller report out of context, and he echoed the president’s rhetoric and sympathized with the president’s feelings during an April 18 news conference before making a redacted copy of the report public.

Barr will tell senators on Wednesday that, aside from the cases that had been referred to other offices, the Justice Department’s work on the special counsel investigation was done and that “the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process.”

“As I’m 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,” Barr is expected to say.

Read Barr’s prepared remarks below.

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