According to his prepared opening statement released late Tuesday, Barr will defend his characterization of Mueller’s investigation.
“The Special Counsel’s report demonstrates that there are many subsidiary considerations informing that prosecutorial judgment — including whether particular legal theories would extend to the facts of the case and whether the evidence is sufficient to prove one or another element of a crime,” Barr states in his prepared remarks.
“But at the end of the day, the federal prosecutor must decide yes or no. That is what I sought to address in my March 24 letter.”
Now they’ve got Mueller’s own words to back up their misgivings about the attorney general.
Barr made reference to the political storm he’s facing over the Mueller report in his prepared remarks, and sought to distance himself from it.
“From here on, the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process,” his prepared remarks state. “As I am sure you agree, it is vitally important for the Department of Justice to stand apart from the political process and not to become an adjunct of it.”
In a statement Tuesday, Nadler demanded a copy of the Mueller’s letter and said that the special counsel “must be allowed to testify.”
There doesn’t appear to be similar drama over whether Barr appears Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the questions won’t be just as contentious from Senate Democrats on the Judiciary panel, including three — Sens. Klobuchar, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey — who are running for President.
Another 2020 hopeful, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, tweeted Tuesday that Barr “should resign his position or face an impeachment inquiry immediately.”
“Attorney General Barr’s actions raise significant questions about his decision not to recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel’s investigation, whether his actions with respect to the release of the report complied with Department of Justice policies and practices and whether he has demonstrated sufficient impartiality to continue overseeing the 14 criminal matters related to the Special Counsel’s investigation,” the senators wrote.
Republicans argue that Barr has provided much more of the Mueller report than he was required to disclose under the law. They say Democrats are simply lashing out at Barr because they are unhappy with the results of the Mueller investigation.
“They didn’t find what they wanted to in the Mueller report, and they now have to make it a sideshow to blame Barr,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
In his prepared remarks, Barr explained he didn’t think it was in the public interest to release piecemeal portions of the report, which is why he says he provided the four-page summary on March 24 and then worked to release a public version.
“I did not believe that it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion, leading to public debate over incomplete information,” Barr will say, according to the remarks.
While the House hearing is in jeopardy, Barr has been preparing at length for the back-to-back appearances, according to a source with knowledge of the preparations. Barr has been holed up with several senior officials in the Justice Department in his conference room for hours at a time since early last week, the source said, in addition to preparing on his own.
Democrats say that Barr cherry-picked lines from Mueller’s report to make it sound as rosy as possible for President Donald Trump, when Mueller detailed numerous contacts between Trump’s team and Russians and instances where Trump sought to interfere in the investigation.
Democrats are also going to press Barr on the decision he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute an obstruction case, after Barr himself wrote before he was named attorney general that such a case was “fatally misconceived.”
“I want him to explain his decision in the four-page letter and talk about what are the takeaways from the report,” Graham said. “One of the takeaways is that the Russians were heavily involved in trying to influence our election. I think they’re still up to it. See if he agrees with that and try to find ways to defend American election system in 2020 from Russian interference and others.”
CNN’s Laura Jarrett and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.