In response to news that Attorney General William Barr plans to hold a morning press conference before the Mueller report is sent to Congress on Thursday, top House Democrats accused Barr of attempting to "shape public perceptions" of the Special Counsel's findings in President Donald Trump's favor before anyone can read them.
The group of Democrats—which included House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)—also raised alarm about reports that Justice Department officials have had "numerous conversations" on the Mueller report with White House lawyers in recent days.
"The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of investigation at the heart of the Mueller report."
—Rep. Jerrold Nadler"These new actions by the Attorney General reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump," the Democrats said in a joint statement late Wednesday. "The Attorney General previously stated, 'I do not believe it would be in the public's interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.' We agree."
"He should let the full report speak for itself," the Democrats added. "The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel's fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress' responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly."
After Barr's press conference, a "lightly redacted" version of the Mueller report is expected to be delivered to Congress between 11:30 am and noon.
Watch the press conference:
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Since he released a four-page letter to Congress in March outlining the Mueller report's "principal conclusions," Barr has faced allegations of attempting to frame and spin Mueller's findings to benefit Trump before the report's release.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) tweeted Wednesday that "Barr continues to act like the president's lawyer, not the people's lawyer."
"It's clear that the rollout of the Mueller Report is being orchestrated by Donald Trump, who is throwing up a smokescreen in front of Congress and the American people," said Hirono. "This is not normal."
Bill Barr continues to act like the President's lawyer, not the people's lawyer. It's clear that the rollout of the Mueller Report is being orchestrated by @realdonaldtrump, who is throwing up a smokescreen in front of Congress and the American people. This is not normal.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 18, 2019
Nadler, who has repeatedly demanded that Barr release an unredacted version of Mueller's findings to Congress, said Wednesday that "the attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of investigation at the heart of the Mueller report."
"Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves," said Nadler, "the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller's nearly two-year investigation."