Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey said she was taken aback that Mr Barr had reduced Mr Mueller's report to a four-page letter in just two days.
Attorney General William Barr has assembled a team to review controversial counterintelligence decisions made by Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials, including actions taken during the probe of the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter. Like members of the House on Tuesday, senators are expected to be more interested in the almost 400-page document than the budget details. Barr's statement mentions $16 million for a vetting program for those who wish to enter or remain in the United States, something he says will help the government "identify terrorists, criminals and other nefarious actors". "Even for someone who had done this job before, I would argue it's more suspicious than impressive".
Still, Barr maintains that it wasn't meant to be a full summary, and that Mueller declined to review the letter before it was sent.
Barr bluntly defended his dealing with the report and said portions must remain hidden to comply with the law. Barr has said he is also removing material from grand-jury proceedings that by law can be made public only through a court order.
The Democrats are demanding that they see the full report and all its underlying evidence, though Mr Trump and his Republican allies are pushing back. If Collins asks Mueller that, and Mueller endorses Barr's handling of the probe, it's hard to see how the cover-up theory could survive it. While Barr's letter said the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russian Federation and Trump associates during the 2016 election, it also said Mueller had presented evidence on both sides of the obstruction question and ultimately did not reach a conclusion on it. Most of the questioning concerned demands for Barr to give lawmakers special counsel Robert Mueller's full Russian Federation report and the evidence behind it.
Barr said "the letter speaks for itself" and revealed that he gave Mueller an opportunity to review the letter, but he declined.
Barr, appearing before a Senate panel on Wednesday, did not say what "spying" may have taken place but seemed to be alluding to a surveillance warrant the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained on a former Trump associate. Now, the objective is to create a cloud of suspicion around Barr which, I guess, will cast doubt on the Mueller report.
"I want to address a series oversight matter: your unacceptable handling of special counsel Robert Mueller's report", said Lowey.
Lowey then noted that Barr wrote a memo, before even being hired as attorney general, arguing that the president can not obstruct justice.
The ostensible objective of the hearing was questioning Barr about the budgetary requests of the Department of Justice, but committee members wasted no time addressing what chairman Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., called "the elephant in the room". He said of Barr: "He has been unresponsive to our requests".
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