Watch Live: Attorney General Testifies About Mueller Report In 1st Of 2 Hearings
Attorney General William Barr is defending his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report in his testimony Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
In a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr says he has kept the promises he made during his confirmation hearing to allow Mueller to finish his work without interference and share his report with Congress and the public.
The Justice Department released the report on Russian election interference on April 18 with redactions that Barr called "limited" and "necessary."
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. opened the hearing reading emails between two FBI agents who were in charge of the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server, and vowed the panel would "look long and hard at how this started."
As for the Muller investigation, Graham said "I have read much of the report," and that "for me it is over."
Addressing another point of criticism, Barr's written testimony explained his conclusion that President Trump had not committed obstruction of justice — even as the Mueller report explicitly "does not exonerate" Trump on the matter.
"It would not have been appropriate for me simply to release Volume II of the report without making a prosecutorial judgment," Barr explained in his written testimony.
Barr told senators he was "frankly surprised" that Mueller did not reach a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Accordingly, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had to assess whether the findings merited criminal charges, he said. And they concluded that they did not.
Mueller had serious concerns about Barr's initial description of the special counsel's findings on obstruction.
"There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation," Mueller wrote to Barr in a letter on March 27. "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 investigation."
The letter was released on Wednesday morning by the Justice Department.