Attorney General William Barr testifies before Congress

By Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:14 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019
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11:03 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Trump has criticized Democrats for hypocrisy between Mueller and Ken Starr reports. Barr just repeated it.

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Attorney General William Barr just echoed one of President Trump’s recent talking points, highlighting what the two men view as Democratic hypocrisy when it comes to releasing the Mueller report.

That’s because some of the Democrats who want Mueller’s full report released actually spoke out against the full release of the Starr report in the late 1990s. Ken Starr’s investigation led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.

“Many of the people right now who are calling for the release of this report were basically castigating Ken Starr and others for releasing the Starr report,” Barr said.

“I have already said that I think the situation here requires me to exercise my discretion to get as much information out as I can, and I think these categories, most fair-minded people would agree, are things that have to be redacted."

Trump tweeted a similar statement last week:

“In 1998, Rep.Jerry Nadler strongly opposed the release of the Starr Report on Bill Clinton. No information whatsoever would or could be legally released. But with the NO COLLUSION Mueller Report, which the Dems hate, he wants it all. NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY THEM! @foxandfriends”
10:53 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Barr tells congressman concerned about the Affordable Care Act lawsuit to "let the courts do their job"

From CNN's From David Wright and Em Steck

Rep. Matt Cartwright asked Attorney General William Barr about the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration recently said should be struck down.

Barr said he wants to let the courts "do their job" when it comes to the lawsuit.

Here's how the exchange went down:

CARTWRIGHT: Let me be the one to inform you that should the law be struck down, millions of people who get their coverage through the ACA marketplace would lose their coverage, and tens of millions more would see their premiums skyrocket. In addition if you are successful, 12 million people nationally and 750,000 in my home state of Pennsylvania who have coverage under the Medicaid expansion would also likely lose that coverage. Am I correct in that, sir?

BARR: I do think it’s likely we’re going to prevail.

CARTWRIGHT: If you prevail — well, you’re devoting scarce resources of your department to that effort, are you not Attorney General?

BARR: We’re in litigation — we have to take a position — we take position in litigation...

CARTWRIGHT: The answer is yes. You are trying to get it invalidated and if you succeed, that many people will lose their coverage nationally from Medicaid, and 750,000 from Pennsylvania alone, right?

BARR: I’m just saying, if you think it’s such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. Let the courts do their job.

10:36 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Meanwhile in court, the Justice Department says the redaction process is "well along"

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

While Attorney General William Barr answers questions on Capitol Hill about the special counsel report, Department of Justice attorneys are in court discussing the same topic.

DOJ attorney Courtney Enlow told a federal judge in Washington this morning that Barr is “well along” in the process of redacting the report for Congress.

Remember: Barr just said this to Congress, too, and added that the redacted report should be ready to release "within a week."

In court, the Justice Department wouldn’t say when the Mueller report will be released or if executive summaries provided by the Mueller team — as described in recent media reports— will be included in the report that Barr is currently redacting.

Why the DOJ is in court: The early lawsuit over the Mueller report’s release ultimately may prompt the court system to get involved in checking Barr’s redaction decisions, and perhaps fashion the release of a version of the report that’s redacted differently from what will be given to Congress this month. 

That’s what the transparency group that brought the suit is hoping, the group said in court Tuesday. 

The federal judge overseeing this request asked for a detailed update from DOJ on May 2 about the possible release of documents from the special counsel’s investigation to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

The judge, Reggie Walton, said he would not step in immediately to get more information to the document requestor, a transparency group called the Electronic Privacy Information Center, but rather would allow for the Mueller report to be released first to Congress before asking for more details about the report’s subsequent release under the FOIA law. 

Walton would “keep the parties on the fast track,” he said. “The public has the right to know what it can know.”

“This is an extremely important subject matter to the nation,” he added. It’s “important the government be as transparent as possible in what it produces.”

10:34 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

One hour in, here's what we've learned at the Barr hearing so far

We're about an hour into Attorney General William Barr's testimony before the House appropriations subcommittee. If you're just tuning in, here's what you need to know.

Barr is there to talk about the Justice Department's budget, but Democratic aides say no topics are off limits, and a lot of the questions so far have focused on special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's what we've learned about it:

  • The full Mueller report is coming: Barr said the Mueller report will be ready for release "within a week."
  • But it will be redacted: Barr identified four types of information that will be redacted: Grand jury information, anything that would reveal intelligence sources and methods, information that could interfere with ongoing prosecution and information that implicates the privacy of "peripheral players."
  • Barr didn't start off by talking about the report: Barr's opening statement touched on the opioid crisis, immigration and cybercrime — but not the Mueller report.

10:25 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

How Barr dodged a question whether Trump's "total exoneration" claims are accurate

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr smartly dodged Rep. Nita Lowey’s question about whether Trump’s claims of “total” exoneration are accurate.

Trump has said that the report gave him “total and complete exoneration” on collusion and obstruction – even though Barr said in his 4-page summary that Mueller specifically noted in the original report that it “does not exonerate” Trump of obstruction.

Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, asked Barr the question twice. He did not answer the specific question, instead saying that everyone will get a chance to read the report soon, and that would be the right time to discuss what’s in it.

By declining to answer, Barr protected himself from having to contradict his boss on national television.

10:14 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Barr declines to answer question of whether White House has seen or been briefed on the Mueller report

From CNN's Manu Raju

Attorney General William Barr just shut the door on Chairwoman Nita Lowey when she asks if the White House has seen or been briefed on Mueller report.

"I'm not going to say anything more about it,” Barr responded.

What he did say: He's planning on releasing the redacted report "within a week." Until then, Barr wants to wait on discussing it further.

10:13 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

These are the 4 kinds of information that will be redacted in the Mueller report, Barr says

Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice is working on redacting special counsel Robert Mueller's report. The special counsel's office is helping with the process.

Barr said there are four areas of information that need to be redacted before the report can be released:

  • Grand jury information
  • Information that would reveal intelligence sources and methods
  • Parts of the report that could interfere with ongoing prosecution
  • Information that implicates the privacy of "peripheral players"

Barr has already released his summary of the report. He said the special counsel was given the opportunity to review his original March 24th letter, but Mueller declined to review it.

9:59 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Barr says he'll release the redacted Mueller report "within a week"

Attorney General William Barr said the process of redacting special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is going well, and he expects to release the report within the next week.

"Ay original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands. So I think that from my standpoint, by within a week, I will be in a position to release the report to the public," he said.

9:54 a.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Barr's opening statement makes no mention of the Mueller report

Attorney General William Barr's opening statement touched on the opioid crisis, immigration and cybercrime — but not special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Barr is testifying before the House appropriations subcommittee about the Justice Department budget. He detailed President Trump's budget requests and how the Justice Department would use the funds.

Remember: Even if Attorney General William Barr declines to speak about the special counsel probe at this hearing, he is coming back to Capitol Hill on May 1 and May 2 for hearings specifically to answer questions about the Mueller investigation.

Those hearings will be before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.