As Mueller release nears, White House renews attacks

Jerry Nadler and Robert Mueller

"As an attorney general you take positions based on the law, and you litigate them in court and the court makes the decision", Barr told Rep. Charlie Crist, a Florida Democrat, in another tense back and forth.

"You're darn right I'm going after them again", Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's attorneys, told The Associated Press.

Barr is working with Rosenstein, Mueller, and their key aides to produce an edited version of the report.

In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Barr also dealt a blow to a Democratic talking point regarding a letter he sent to Congress on March 24 laying out special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusions.

Democrats have urged Barr to make the case to a judge for an exception to the rules that prevent the Justice Department from releasing grand-jury information to Congress, but Barr said he has no plans to do so. "Will these actions be identified in the report sent to Congress?" the Democrat asked. His primary concern, he insisted, is protecting confidential grand jury material included in the document.

"We still have not heard from the attorney general", he added.

"This process is going along well", Barr said at the hearing Tuesday.

House Democrats have approved subpoenas to obtain Mueller's entire report - including any evidence that the U.S. Justice Department might withhold.

Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice by trying to interfere with the probe, but Barr wrote in his letter that the president had not committed a crime.

Barr is testifying at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing to discuss the Justice Department budget and the department's priorities, but the Mueller report - which Barr is in the process of redacting before releasing publicly - will loom over the proceedings.

Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of NY and chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee, pressed Mr. Barr to say whether the White House has seen or been briefed on the contents of the Mueller report beyond what was in his letters about it to Congress.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) asked Barr during the House Appropriations subcommittee hearing during a contentious exchange.

Chaffetz, a Fox News contributor and former US congressman, said Democrats were attempting to "muddy the waters" because they were unhappy with Barr's summary, which said Mueller found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and made no determination on obstruction of justice.

They, along with their colleagues, say the report should be released without redactions.

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported last week that some investigators on Mueller's team were unhappy with the way Barr described their findings.

The attorney general also said the door appears open to more investigations or reports about the conduct of the Russian Federation investigation - music to the ears of Republicans who have followed the lead of President Trump in calling it a "witch hunt" or suggesting it is the product of a conspiracy by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Get more from Chaffetz in the "America's Newsroom" clip above.

"What happens, and what the next step is, we'll see", Lowey said.

If the leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees want to see more, the attorney general said, he will play ball. The House Judiciary Committee voted last week to authorize a subpoena for the full report and evidence. While opening the hearing, subcommittee Chairman Jose Serrano of NY called it "the elephant in the room".

Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama, the subcommittee's top Republican, said it was unfortunate that "so numerous questions here this morning are going toward a "grassy knoll" conspiracy theory regarding the Mueller report".

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