Rep. Jerrold Nadler and several fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s latest moves ahead of the long-awaited release of Robert Mueller’s special counsel report, criticizing both the timing and the sharing of details with President Donald Trump’s legal team.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had been in communication with White House lawyers in recent days about Robert Mueller’s findings in the special counsel inquiry, giving President Donald Trump time to prepare a response ahead of its public release. The Times also reported that Barr had scheduled a 9:30 a.m. press conference on Thursday to discuss the redacted report, while lawmakers were not expected to receive it until as late as midday.
The Justice Department’s communications with the White House and Barr’s decision to hold a pre-release press conference are “highly wrong, highly contemptuous of Congress and of our right to have a role in this,” Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday evening. “It’s obviously an attempt to stage manage and to create the headlines and the narrative.”
Nadler said that he had previously been unaware of the developments, adding that he now expected the report to be released to his committee and to the public sometime between 11 a.m. and noon.
Several of Nadler’s Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee echoed his complaints. The timing of Barr’s press conference “is just so thoroughly disrespectful of the American people,” said Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida. Another Florida Democrat, Rep. Val Demings, said she has been “so disappointed in the behavior of our attorney general,” accusing him of “running around acting like he’s either the spokesperson for the White House or the attorney for the president.”
The remarks were made during an evening discussion on the House Judiciary Committee hosted by the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, with City & State serving as media sponsor. Two other Democrats on the committee, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, also spoke on the panel.
So-called Attorney General is presiding over a dog and pony show.— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) April 17, 2019
Here is a thought.
Release the Mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut.
You have ZERO credibility.https://t.co/fKFeexUKkX
After the event concluded, Nadler stood alongside his colleagues at a hastily arranged press conference and denounced Barr’s actions as “wrong.”
“The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report,” Nadler said during brief remarks before a crowd of television cameras. “Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.”
Nadler also expressed skepticism over a new court filing in the Roger Stone case in which prosecutors said a limited number of members of Congress could get access to a version of the report that includes some of the redacted information.
“The Judiciary Committee has no knowledge of this, and this should not be read as any agreement … or assent on our part,” Nadler said.