Attorney General William Barr Goes To Bat For Trump Ahead Of Mueller Report Release

Barr said the president did not exercise his executive privilege, though “he would have been well within his rights to do so.”

By Jessica Schulberg, Hayley Miller, and Ryan J. Reilly | The Huffington Post | April 18, 2019:

WASHINGTON ― Attorney General William Barr, appearing to play the role of President Donald Trump’s defender, held a bizarre news conference Thursday morning ahead of the expected release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report.

“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation,” Barr said at a news conference at the Justice Department. “As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates.”

He continued: “At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.”

The attorney general, in his remarks Thursday, discussed executive privilege, the Justice Department’s interactions with the White House in the past few weeks and the process for redacting the special counsel’s nearly 400-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Barr said Trump did not assert executive privilege to redact information within the report, though he noted the president would have been “well within his rights to do so.”

“The president confirmed that, in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people, he would not assert privilege over the special counsel’s report,” Barr said Thursday. “Accordingly, the public report I am releasing today contains redactions only for the four categories that I previously outlined, and no material has been redacted based on executive privilege.”

Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Deputy Attorney General Ed

Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, left, about Mueller’s report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington.

Barr said earlier this month that Trump indicated he was leaving the decision on executive privilege to the attorney general. Barr said at the time that he had “no plan” to claim executive privilege to hold back any of the Mueller report.

As he stated during congressional hearings on Capitol Hill earlier this month, the publicly released Mueller report will be redacted with regard to four areas: grand jury material, intelligence sources and methods, information that could jeopardize ongoing investigations, and material Barr believes could unfairly damage the reputations of “peripheral third parties.”Subscribe to the Politics email.How will Trump’s administration impact you?

Barr’s decision to hold a news conference, alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, before the reporters asking him questions were able to read the redacted report raised concerns that the Trump-appointed Justice Department official was spinning media coverage of the report in favor of the president.