Justice Dept. Releases Redacted Mueller Report, Dems and Media Furious
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WASHINGTON - Democrats and the media are in an uproar, accusing US Attorney General William Barr of being a "shill" for the president, all because of a press conference.
Even up to the moment of the report's release, controversy escalated around Barr's handling of the Mueller report.
Democrats have been criticizing his decision to hold a press conference before making it available to them. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, "The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump."
Democrats are demanding Barr let the report speak for itself.
Nadler continued, "The fact that the attorney general is not releasing even the redacted report to Congress until after his press conference will again result in the report being presented through his own words, rather than through the words of Special Counsel Robert Mueller."
This come as the New York Times reports Justice Department officials have been in contact with White House attorneys about Mueller's conclusions. But Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said, "I've not seen it. The president has not seen it."
Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, "The process is poisoned."
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, "AG Barr has thrown out his credibility."
Members of the media are piling on too.
NBC News political analyst Nicolle Wallace said, "It's no longer the Mueller report. It's now the two guys, Barr and Rosenstein... who put their finger on the scale and made the decision about obstruction that Mueller didn't make, spinning the decision they made when they put the finger on the scale about obstruction, which Mueller wouldn't do, the Mueller report. It's no longer the release of the Mueller report, guys."
Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokol said, "I think you know if you want the public to take this report seriously and to believe the Justice Department is credible, you would probably think twice about putting the head of the Justice Department out on TV to do spin for you."
It was President Trump who broke the news about Barr's news conference during a radio interview Wednesday. "You'll see a lot of very strong things come out."
Barr quoted directly from Mueller's report in declaring the investigation found no evidence Trump and his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.
On allegations of obstruction of justice, Mueller gave no final call, but Barr concluded there was not enough evidence to prove any obstruction. The Washington Post reports today that Mueller couldn't reach a conclusion because he couldn't determine the president's intent.
And members of Congress are demanding the full, unredacted report, saying they need all the underlying evidence to draw their own conclusions.
Meanwhile, Trump and his legal team are coming out with a robust legal defense of their own, preparing a cut-down version of the report. The president says the report fully exonerates him.
We're told we will not hear from Robert Mueller today, but he could still be called before Congress to testify in the days to come.
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