Barr to testify on Mueller report before Senate Judiciary Committee

By Grace Segers, Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

Attorney General William Barr will testify about special counsel Robert Mueller's report before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday following the revelation that Mueller confronted Barr about his four-page characterization of the report.

The Justice Department said Mueller sent a letter to Barr in late March to express frustrations with the public rollout of his report. The revelation drew immediate rebukes from Democrats, with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee demanding the letter from the Justice Department ahead of Barr's testimony in the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is controlled by Republicans and chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of President Trump. The hearing is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. ET.

Trending News

Democrats have accused Barr of trying to protect Mr. Trump by waiting weeks to release a redacted version of Mueller's report, and determining the president did not obstruct justice. Mueller found there was no conspiracy between Trump campaign officials and individuals associated with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

However, Mueller did detail several instances of potential obstruction of justice by the president, although ultimately did not make a determination. Congressional Democrats believe Mueller punted the issue to Congress, and now it is up to Congress — not Barr — to determine whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are likely to ask questions of Barr that would further clear Mr. Trump of wrongdoing, while Democrats will grill him on whether he improperly protected the president by concluding that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice.

Mueller complained to Barr about letter summarizing the report

Mueller wrote a letter to Barr expressing his dissatisfaction with Barr's March 24 letter summarizing the key points of the report, the Justice Department said Tuesday. In the March letter, Barr said Mueller concluded there was no collusion with Russia, and said Barr had determined that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice.

Barr called Mueller to discuss the special counsel's letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post Tuesday night.

"In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General's March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel's obstruction analysis," a Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement.

"They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released. However, the Attorney General ultimately determined that it would not be productive to release the report in piecemeal fashion," the statement continued. "The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel's principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1st and 2nd."

Although Barr did not intend it to be a summary of the report, Mr. Trump took it as such, and has repeatedly asserted the report found "no collusion" and "no obstruction." However, Mueller's report explicitly said that it "did not exonerate" the president.

Congressional Democrats have called on Mueller to testify before Congress.

Graham previews Barr hearing

Graham says Mueller investigation is "over for me"

Appearing on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Graham, the Judiciary Committee chairman, detailed what he plans to focus on in Wednesday's hearing:

Well, he gave a four page summary. Does the report support his summary? Does the report actually indicate there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians? I think the idea that this president obstructed justice is absurd. He turned over a million documents to the special counsel. Almost everybody around him testified. I can't think of one thing that President Trump did to stop Mueller from doing his job. He never claimed executive privilege. From my point of view, I've heard all I need to really know. Now I want to look and find out how all this happened.

Barr, House Democrats spar over scheduled testimony

Attorney General William Barr speaks during a press conference on the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report at the Department of Justice on April 18, 2019 in Washington, D.C. WIN MCNAMEE / Getty Images

Barr quarreled with congressional Democrats on Sunday over the conditions for his highly anticipated testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Barr wants to be questioned only by lawmakers on the committee — not by their staff and lawyers.

"The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress. Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning," Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement Sunday. "He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report."

But Democrats believe Barr, as the committee's witness, should not dictate the parameters of the hearing. A spokesperson for the Democratic-controlled panel also said the Justice Department can't prohibit members of Congress from asking about redacted sections of the Mueller report.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the committee chair, scheduled a vote on Wednesday to approve an additional hour of questioning — by both lawmakers and their staff and counsel — during Barr's testimony. The New York Democrat said he expects the attorney general to show up on Thursday, but vowed to issue subpoenas if Barr refuses to testify.

"If the attorney general is afraid to subject (himself) to questions where you can follow up, that may indicate lack of confidence in his own position," Nadler told reporters Monday. "And more to the point, we have to get to the bottom of these issues. That's why we've called him in. It's not up to the attorney general to tell the committee how to conduct its business."

— Paula Reid, Rebecca Kaplan, Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Barr claimed there was "spying" on Trump campaign in recent testimony

Barr testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10, before the redacted report was released to the public. The attorney general made news by claiming that there was unauthorized "spying" on the Trump campaign, although he later partially walked back that assertion.

Under questioning from Democrats and Republicans, however, Barr seemed to back off that assertion.

"I'm not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it's important to look at that. And I'm not just talking about the FBI necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly," Barr said.

"I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that's all," Barr also said.

He told the Senate panel, "I just want to satisfy myself that there were no abuse of law enforcement or intelligence powers."

"I'm not saying improper surveillance occurred, I am looking into it," Barr later explained.

His testimony left Democrats to assume Barr is carrying the president's water on this issue, even though he pointedly declined to echo the president's claim that the investigation has been a "witch hunt."

First published on May 1, 2019 / 6:00 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

Attorney General William Barr Holds Press Conference To Discuss Release Of Mueller Report

Barr to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee — live updates

Barr has so far refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, which is led by Democrats

1M ago

Transcript: Mike Pompeo on "Intelligence Matters"

Pompeo spoke with CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell on his podcast "Intelligence Matters," ahead of its first-year anniversary as a production of CBS News

1M ago

Food insecurity: After a decade of recovery, Americans still go hungry

Some 40 million people, living in every state, lack the money or resources to secure enough to eat

6H ago

Chris Pratt reveals video from "Avengers: Endgame" set

"Nobody was allowed to film anything on their phones. I said screw it. No rule was going to stop me…" wrote the star on Instagram

6H ago

Parts of downtown Davenport, Iowa, flooded after barrier fails

Crews scrambled Tuesday to fill sandbags for downtown businesses looking to keep the floodwaters out of their buildings

7H ago

Barr to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee — live updates

Barr has so far refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, which is led by Democrats

1M ago

Transcript: Mike Pompeo on "Intelligence Matters"

Pompeo spoke with CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell on his podcast "Intelligence Matters," ahead of its first-year anniversary as a production of CBS News

1M ago

Mueller confronted Barr over characterization of special counsel's report

Mueller "expressed frustration over the lack of context" in Barr's four-page letter summary, the Justice Department said

7H ago

Abortion doctors face up to 99 years in jail with new Ala. law

The bill makes no exceptions for rape and incest, despite objections from the state's Democrats.

9H ago

Millennials struggle under the burden of student loan debt

Taylor Smith graduated college with 11 student loans and $53,000 in debt

7H ago

Seagull repeatedly photobombs traffic camera and goes viral

"RUN FOR YOUR LIVES IT'S A FIFTY FOOT SEAGULL," one Twitter user joked

5H ago

UK police face backlash over personal data requests

London government victims' advocate says sexual assault victims can be re-traumatized by the blanket request for their personal data when they go to police

11H ago

Bipartisan bill introduces bill to extend TPS for Nicaraguans

Lawmakers have also introduced bipartisan legislation to grant Venezuelans TPS, but the White House has not taken an official stance on it

14H ago

Whale linked to Russian military is affectionate, fetches rings

White whale found in Arctic Norway wearing a harness that suggests links to a military facility in Russia is so tame that residents can pet the mammal on its nose

15H ago

Maduro proclaims "defeat" of opposition uprising

The country's socialist government dismissed what it called a U.S.-sponsored "coup" and said the Venezuelan army remained loyal to the president

7H ago

Chris Pratt reveals video from "Avengers: Endgame" set

"Nobody was allowed to film anything on their phones. I said screw it. No rule was going to stop me…" wrote the star on Instagram

6H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream in May

Apr 26 36 photos

Jussie Smollett will not return to "Empire" next season

Chicago police accused the 36-year-old actor of orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack against himself in late January

8H ago

"Sonic the Hedgehog" trailer shows Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik

Sega's iconic character Sonic the Hedgehog hits the big screen Nov. 8 in the U.S

10H ago

Maisie Williams' boyfriend didn't like Arya's big moment

"I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn't deserve it."

13H ago

UK police face backlash over personal data requests

London government victims' advocate says sexual assault victims can be re-traumatized by the blanket request for their personal data when they go to police

11H ago

Facebook rolls out major redesign at developers conference

"The future is private," CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared, promising more one-on-one contact and encryption in Messenger

14H ago

Alphabet shares down 15 percent on disappointing earnings

Slowing ad sales have some analysts worried that search giant's core business is starting to sputter

19H ago

Chase tweets about budgeting, gets burned by Twitter

The bank, whose CEO made $31 million last year and which was on the receiving end of U.S. bailouts, has since deleted the tweet

Apr 29

Angie's List favors its own advertisers, consumer group warns

Consumer Federation of America urges users of the popular ratings site to ignore its recommended businesses

22H ago

How NASA would keep an asteroid from hitting Earth

While unlikely, scientists are preparing for the worst case scenario

11H ago

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

16H ago

NASA troubleshoots space station power glitch

Upcoming SpaceX cargo launch could be delayed if space station power glitch isn't quickly resolved

Apr 29

Beto O'Rourke rolls out four-part climate plan

The four part plan aims to address the battle against climate change, what O'Rourke calls "the greatest threat we face"

14H ago

Flooding kills dozens in heavily-deforested Indonesia

Cutting down of trees and inappropriate land use has left the country vulnerable, as the death toll from flooding and landslides shows

Apr 29

Abortion doctors face up to 99 years in jail with new Ala. law

The bill makes no exceptions for rape and incest, despite objections from the state's Democrats.

9H ago

"Vampire facials" at spa linked to two HIV cases

More than 100 former clients of VIP Spa, which closed last September, have been tested for blood-borne infections

12H ago

Teen suicides rose after "13 Reasons Why," study finds

While the researchers cannot prove that the Netflix show caused the increase, they say the association is troubling

14H ago

Autism can be diagnosed earlier, study suggests

Earlier diagnosis could also mean earlier intervention

17H ago

Don't call it a midlife crisis. Try "middlescence," expert on aging says

Gerontologist and life coach Barbara Waxman offers practical tips for middle age people to thrive

17H ago

Food insecurity: After a decade of recovery, Americans still go hungry

Some 40 million people, living in every state, lack the money or resources to secure enough to eat

6H ago

Millennials struggle under the burden of student loan debt

Taylor Smith graduated college with 11 student loans and $53,000 in debt

7H ago

Is this record-setting stock market setting up investors for a fall?

If you're worried that stock prices can't get much higher, you might want to review this list of market indicators

Apr 30

Student loan debt crisis: How did we get here?

"The really scary thing is we don't really have a plan to either address the millions of borrowers who've taken on student loan debt or a plan to really stop this"

11H ago

The rise of female gun ownership and fashionable "carrywear"

Alexo Athletica designed a pair of Lulelemon-like leggings with pockets for guns — and women gun owners took notice

Apr 26

Crime

Suspect arrested in deadly UNC Charlotte shooting

A North Carolina university police chief says officers arrived within minutes to the room in a campus building where a shooting happened, disarming the gunman. University of North Carolina-Charlotte Police Chief Jeff Baker said that a call came in at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday that a suspect armed with a pistol had shot several students. Two of them died.

8H ago 01:24

2 dead, 4 injured in shooting at UNC Charlotte, police say

Detained suspect identified as 22 year old; three of the wounded were in critical condition, authorities said

1H ago

UNCC student describes campus shooting

At least two people are dead and four others wounded in a shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, officials said. UNCC senior Shamar Crosby described the scene on campus to CBSN's Tanya Rivero.

8H ago 05:23

Synagogue shooting suspect enters plea

The suspect in the synagogue shooting in southern California pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors said his intent was clear. David Begnaud reports.

10H ago 01:55

Active shooter reported at UNC Charlotte

An active shooter has been reported at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the school said. The campus was quickly put on lockdown.

7H ago 01:11

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

16H ago

NASA troubleshoots space station power glitch

Upcoming SpaceX cargo launch could be delayed if space station power glitch isn't quickly resolved

Apr 29

NASA just detected the first "marsquake"

For the first time since its mission began, NASA's InSight lander has detected what scientists believe to be a marsquake

Apr 23

"Marfa Martians" sending their science experiment to space

The team, made up of 10 and 11-year-olds, want to find a way to kill bacteria in space

Apr 22

SpaceX suffers Crew Dragon engine test anomaly

SpaceX suffers engine "anomaly" in Crew Dragon test vehicle during Cape Canaveral engine test

Apr 20

Worst movie sequels since 2000, ranked

These are the lowest-rated sequels this century, according to Metacritic's rankings

16H ago 51 photos

Private secrets shared via postcard

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors with something to get off their chest have sent postcards to the website PostSecret.com

Apr 28 32 photos

Met Gala 2019: Craziest looks of all time

The bigger the tiara – or pope hat – the better! (Just ask Rihanna, Katy Perry or Sarah Jessica Parker… )

Apr 26 47 photos

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Apr 26 36 photos

Jason Corbett murder: A look at the evidence

In August 2015, former FBI agent Tom Martens and his daughter Molly Corbett admitted killing her Irish-born husband Jason Corbett, insisting they beat him in self-defense with a brick paver and a baseball bat because Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her

Apr 20 11 photos

Popular

Seagull photobombs traffic camera

The seagull repeatedly perched in front of a London traffic camera this week

7H ago 00:15

Mueller on Barr's summary

Special counsel Robert Mueller "expressed frustration over the lack of context" in Attorney General William Barr's four-page letter summarizing the findings of Mueller's nearly two-year investigation into President Trump's conduct and Russian interference in U.S. elections, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Paula Reid reports.

7H ago 01:04

Bolton: All options on the table in Venezuela

The White House says President Trump is closely monitoring a "very serious situation" in Venezuela. Politico White House correspondent and associate editor, Anita Kumar; and Bloomberg national political reporter, Sahil Kapur, join CBSN's "Red and Blue" to discuss the country's ongoing turmoil and the rest of the day's top political headlines.

5H ago 15:08

Venezuelan opposition leader initiates uprising

U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for civilians and Venezuelan military to back him Tuesday in an uprising against President Nicolás Maduro. This led to violent clashes between the opposition and troops who support Maduro. The Trump administration stands by Guaidó and recognizes him as Venezuela's rightful leader. Foreign Affairs columnist Markos Kounalakis joins CBSN to discuss the latest.

7H ago 10:00

Suspect arrested in deadly UNC Charlotte shooting

A North Carolina university police chief says officers arrived within minutes to the room in a campus building where a shooting happened, disarming the gunman. University of North Carolina-Charlotte Police Chief Jeff Baker said that a call came in at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday that a suspect armed with a pistol had shot several students. Two of them died.

8H ago 01:24