According to a breaking news story in The Washington Post, special counsel Robert Mueller wrote to attorney general William Barr on March 27, expressing his frustration at the way Barr was handling his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Democrats are reportedly incensed by the reporting. On Tuesday, The New York Times first reported that the special counsel wrote to Barr saying he disagreed with the attorney general’s summary of its nearly two-year investigation.
Then, the Washington Post followed up saying in an article, “Days after Barr submitted his ‘principal conclusions’ on the investigation, Mueller wrote a letter saying he ‘did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.’”
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” the letter continued. “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
Following the reports of Mueller’s frustration, Democratic lawmakers have called for his head. Sen. Van Hollen referenced a previous Senate hearing on Barr’s principal conclusions.
“I asked Barr, ‘Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?’ His answer was, ‘I don’t know whether Mueller supported my conclusion,’” Van Hollen said on Twitter.
“We now know Mueller stated his concerns on March 27th, and that Barr totally misled me, the Congress, and the public,” Van Hollen added. “He must resign.”
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These stories broke just hours before Barr is to begin two days of testimony before the Senate and House judiciary committees, where he is expected to face tough questions on the Mueller report and his decision-making surrounding it. These stories will surely be an issue.
However, DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec defended Barr’s action in the wake of the release of Mueller’s letter.
In a statement to Fox News, Kupec noted that Mueller had not faulted the accuracy of Barr’s summary, and offered more details on Barr’s actions.
“After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it,” Kupec said. “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. They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released.”
Barr’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to last more than three hours. The hearing will provide the attorney general his most extensive opportunity to explain the department’s actions, including a press conference held before the report’s release, and for him to confront head-on the partisan allegations that he has sacrificed his integrity to become the president’s protector.
Barr is also separately invited to appear on Thursday, May 2, before the Democratic-led House Judiciary panel, but the Justice Department said he would not testify if the committee insisted on having its lawyers question the attorney general, instead of members of Congress.