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The Latest: Trump blasts Democrats after Barr testimony

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room is prepared for Attorney General William Barr who will face lawmakers' questions Wednesday for the first time since releasing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says calls from some Democratic lawmakers for Attorney General William Barr to resign are “so ridiculous.”

Trump tells Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan that he heard Barr “performed incredibly well” in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The president noted that three of the senators who questioned Barr are running for the presidency and accused them of “ranting and raving like lunatics, frankly.”

Trump was asked about Barr declining to appear before a House panel to testify on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Barr objected to the format of letting staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning.

Trump says, “They want to treat him differently than they have anybody else,” adding, “You elect people that are supposed to be able to do their own talking.”

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6:20 p.m.

The Justice Department says the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is trying to place “unprecedented and unnecessary” conditions on the attorney general.

William Barr was scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday but will not show up.

The attorney general was asked to testify before the committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec says committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s insistence that congressional staffers be allowed to question Barr is “inappropriate.”

Kupec says the attorney general “remains happy to engage directly” with members of the committee to answer their questions.

Nadler accused Barr of canceling his appearance because he’s “terrified” of facing questioning from the panel.

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6:15 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman says Attorney General William Barr is declining to appear before the panel Thursday because he’s “terrified.”

New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday the “next step” would be to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide a fully unredacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Barr has objected to the committee’s plan to have attorneys from both sides, Democrats and Republicans, do the questioning, alongside lawmakers on the committee.

Nadler says Barr is “stonewalling” Congress over the Russia probe and “trying to blackmail the committee” by setting the terms of the hearing. The chairman says he hopes Barr reconsiders his decision not to show.

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5:55 p.m.

Attorney General William Barr has told members of the House Judiciary Committee that he will not testify before their committee Thursday.

That’s according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The attorney general was asked to testify before the committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

His refusal to attend the hearing is likely to cause a further rift with congressional Democrats who have accused him of trying to spin Mueller’s report to favor the president.

Barr appeared Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

— Mary Clare Jalonick

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3:45 p.m.

“Snitty.”

That’s the way Attorney General William Barr described a letter from special counsel Robert Mueller expressing concerns about his portrayal of the Russia probe.

Barr was testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday when Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked about the letter. Mueller wrote it March 27, but it was only disclosed publicly ahead of the hearing.

“The letter’s a bit snitty,” Barr said. He said he thinks it was probably written by someone on Mueller’s staff.

Barr said he called Mueller the next day and said: “What’s with the letter? Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call me if there was an issue?”

Blumenthal characterized the letter an “extraordinary act” of “rebuking the Attorney General of the United States” and “memorializing it in writing.”

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2:30 p.m.

Attorney General William Barr says he didn’t exonerate President Donald Trump, because that’s not the job of the Justice Department.

Barr said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday that he simply decided the evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller was not sufficient to prove that the president obstructed justice.

Barr said, “I didn’t exonerate. I said that we didn’t believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense.”

The attorney general made the statement as he explained that the Justice Department’s job is to identify crimes and prosecute them but not to pass judgment on behavior that’s not illegal.

He says the report is now in the hands of the American people, and if they don’t like Trump’s conduct, there’s an election in 18 months.

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2:25 p.m.

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono has called on Attorney General William Barr to resign at a hearing to review special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Hirono launched an aggressive line of questioning against the attorney general, asserting he hadn’t been honest with Congress and calling on him to resign.

Hirono also asked Barr if it was OK for a president to ask one of his aides to lie, referencing the report’s examination of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

When Barr equivocated, Hirono grew angry, saying, “Mr. attorney general, please give us some credit for knowing what the hell is going on right now.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham shot back: “You have slandered this man from top to bottom.”

Barr himself chimed in, asking “How did we get to this point?”

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12:25 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to allow its staff to question Attorney General William Barr, throwing his scheduled testimony Thursday into question.

The Democrat-led panel voted to allow extra time for questioning. Barr was testifying in the Senate during the House panel’s vote Wednesday and has objected to the change. It’s unclear whether Barr will testify before Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s panel as scheduled.

Nadler speculated that Barr “is afraid” of testifying, adding, “he apparently does not want to answer questions.”

Republicans shot back that Democrats are conducting impeachment-like proceedings against President Donald Trump instead of legitimate oversight.

Barr on Wednesday defended his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s (MUHL’-urz) report. His testimony came after the release of a letter from Mueller expressing frustration about how Barr portrayed his findings.

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12:05 p.m.

Attorney General William Barr says he saw no issue with his choice of words when he told Congress last month he believed “spying did occur” against Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Barr testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said the word spying “does not have any pejorative connotation.”

Barr made the comment in April during testimony to the House Appropriations Committee. He provided no details about what “spying” may have taken place but appeared to be alluding to a surveillance warrant the FBI obtained on a former Trump associate.

Barr defended himself Wednesday, arguing it’s a common term in media reports to refer to lawful surveillance.

When pressed by Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse that the term is not commonly used by Justice Department officials, Barr responded: “It is commonly used by me.”

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11:35 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr says he believes that if special counsel Robert Mueller felt he shouldn’t make a decision about whether or not the president obstructed justice then he “shouldn’t have investigated.”

Barr testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he isn’t totally sure why the special counsel did not reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice. Instead, Mueller presented evidence on both sides of the question.

Barr says that if Mueller “felt he shouldn’t go down the path taking a traditional prosecutive decision” then he shouldn’t have investigated. He says, “That was the time to pull up.”

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (ROH’-zen-styn) determined the evidence was insufficient to support an obstruction charge.

Mueller sent a letter saying that Barr’s four-page summary of his Russia report created “public confusion about critical aspects of the results.”

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11:05 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr says special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur) told him that Barr didn’t “misrepresent” Mueller’s Russia report in a letter summarizing the probe’s principal conclusions.

The attorney general testified Wednesday before Congress and responded to the release of a March 27 letter from Mueller complaining that Barr’s four-page letter about the report “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of the special counsel’s “work and conclusions.”

Barr says he called Mueller after receiving his complaints and Mueller told him “he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report.”

Barr says Mueller told him press reports were reading too much into Barr’s letter and Mueller wanted the public to see more of his reasoning for not answering the question of whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s letter says that Barr’s summary of his Russia report created “public confusion about critical aspects of the results.”

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10:55 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr says he was surprised that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team did not reach a conclusion on whether or not President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

Barr said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Mueller told him of his team’s plans at a March 5 meeting.

A Justice Department legal opinion says sitting presidents cannot be indicted. Barr says Mueller told him he wouldn’t have recommended indicting the president even without that opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel.

Barr says Mueller told him that there may come a time when the Justice Department should consider revisiting that opinion but that this is not that case.

Mueller has written a letter saying that Barr’s summary of his Russia report created “public confusion about critical aspects of the results.”

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10:45 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr is criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur) for not identifying grand jury material in his Russia report when he submitted it.

Barr says the Mueller team’s failure to do that slowed down the release of the public version of the report.

Barr testified Wednesday about his handling of the Mueller report before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The testimony comes after the release of a letter from Mueller. That letter reveals the special counsel had prepared the summaries of his two-volume report for immediate public release but Barr chose not to release them.

Barr instead wrote his own letter summarizing Mueller’s findings. Mueller’s letter says that Barr’s summary created “public confusion about critical aspects of the results” of the Russia probe.

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10:40 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is requesting that the panel hold a hearing with special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur).

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (FYN’-styn) said Wednesday in her opening statement at the committee’s hearing on Mueller’s Russia report that she had asked Chairman Lindsey Graham to invite the special counsel.

Graham has said he doesn’t think Mueller needs to testify. The South Carolina senator says he’s satisfied with hearing from Attorney General William Barr, who is appearing before the panel on Wednesday.

Graham said in his opening statement he’s ready to move on from the report. He says that for him “it’s over.”

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10:05 a.m.

Special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur) told Attorney General William Barr that Barr’s summary of the Russia probe’s findings caused “public confusion about critical aspects” of the investigation.

A copy of Mueller’s letter to Barr was released Wednesday. In his letter, Mueller raised concerns about a letter that Barr sent to Congress detailing what he said were Mueller’s principal conclusions.

Mueller said Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of the special counsel’s work and conclusions.

Barr’s letter was released just two days after the Justice Department received the special counsel’s report. It said Mueller hadn’t reached a conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice despite presenting evidence on both sides of the question.

Mueller’s letter is likely to be a central focus at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Barr.

Barr’s prepared testimony shows he plans to defend his handling of Mueller’s report.

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9:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is claiming “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION” as Attorney General William Barr prepares to appear before Congress for the first time since releasing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.

Barr’s testimony Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee comes amid new revelations that Mueller expressed frustration to Barr about how the report’s finding were being portrayed.

Trump tweeted: “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION. Besides, how can you have Obstruction when not only was there No Collusion (by Trump), but the bad actions were done by the ‘other’ side? The greatest con-job in the history of American Politics!”

Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. Barr says he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cleared Trump of obstruction of justice after investigators reached no conclusion on that question.

Barr’s prepared testimony shows he plans to defend his handling of Mueller’s report.

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9:25 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr is defending his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report.

Barr is to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His appearance comes hours after it was revealed that Mueller had sent the Justice Department a letter objecting to the way his findings were portrayed.

In prepared testimony released by the Justice Department, Barr says that Mueller finished his investigation without interference and that neither he nor any other Justice Department official overruled any proposed action.

Barr also will defend his decision to release the bottom-line conclusions of Mueller’s report. Barr will say he “did not believe that it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion.”

Barr initially issued a four-page statement that summarized what he said were the main conclusions of the Mueller report. He later released a redacted version of the report.

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1:15 a.m.

Lawmakers have a new line of inquiry to pursue when Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barr has been expected in Wednesday’s hearing to defend his actions surrounding the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.

But it emerged Tuesday night that Mueller has expressed frustration to Barr in a letter with how the conclusions of his investigation have been being portrayed.

The letter lays bare a simmering rift between the Justice Department and the special counsel about whether Barr’s summary of the report adequately conveyed the gravity of Mueller’s findings, particularly on the key question of obstruction.

The revelation is likely to sharpen attacks by Democrats who accuse Barr of unduly protecting the president and of spinning Mueller’s conclusions in Trump’s favor.

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