By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The head of the U.S. Justice Department is defending his handling of the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated whether President Donald Trump and his associates colluded with Russian officials.
Attorney General William Barr was grilled by lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, as Democrats sought to highlight discrepancies between Barr’s characterization of Mueller’s report.
Ahead of Barr’s appearance, another congressional committee released a letter that Mueller wrote to Barr, in which Mueller complained that Barr’s four-page summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his team’s conclusions.
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” Mueller said in the March 27 letter released by the House Judiciary Committee.
The letter, and Barr’s appearance, added fuel to the controversy surrounding Mueller’s report, which was released on April 18.
The report corroborated U.S. intelligence conclusions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and also documented Trump’s efforts to undermine his inquiry.
But Mueller concluded there was not sufficient evidence to prove Trump and his team committed a crime.
Before the release of the Mueller report, Barr released a four-page summary that Democratic lawmakers say misconstrued Mueller’s report.
Barr also said Mueller had not reached a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Mueller’s letter to Barr, released on May 1, appeared to contradict Barr’s summary.
“This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department [of Justice] appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” the letter said.