Senior House Democrats have demanded that Attorney General William Barr cancel his planned press conference Thursday on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr, who was handpicked by President Donald Trump for his post, has scheduled the news conference for 9:30 a.m., before the redacted report is to be released to Congress.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, in a news conference of his own on Wednesday, joined other Democrats in criticizing Barr for scheduling the news conference. He issued a joint statement on Thursday morning with Democratic chairs of several House committees.
“This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it,” they said.
The statement was signed by Nadler, Adam B. Schiff, Elijah E. Cummings, Maxine Waters and Eliot L. Engel, chairs of the judiciary, intelligence, oversight and reform, financial services, and foreign affairs committees, respectively.
They referenced reports in the New York Times and ABC News that White House officials have already been briefed on the Mueller report. ABC News said the White House had received a “broad briefing” on the 400-page report, while the Times said Justice Department officials spoke with White House lawyers.
“There is no legitimate reason for the Department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report. These new actions by the Attorney General reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump,” the Democrats said in their statement.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) earlier said that Barr was “presiding over a dog and pony show.”
“Release the Mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut,” Jeffries tweeted.
Barr will be accompanied at his press conference by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation. Mueller won’t be present.
Trump, on the day before the report’s release, praised his attorney general.
“Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference and maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see. But he’s been a fantastic attorney general. He’s grabbed it by the horns,” Trump told the Larry O’Connor show on WMAL radio.