Attorney General William Barr on Thursday morning was set to transmit a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report on Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign to members of Congress, making public for the first time substantial portions of the nearly 400-page document.
In that letter, Barr described “two main” Kremlin-backed efforts to influence the election, but states definitively that the special counsel’s office did not find evidence to suggest that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with the Russians.
The special counsel’s office made no conclusion on the matter of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, Barr noted, but Barr himself determined that the evidence against Trump did not amount to a crime.
Democrats on Thursday morning stepped up their criticism of how Barr has handled the Mueller report and its release, slamming him for holding a news conference at 9:30 a.m. EDT, hours before DOJ officials say he will send the report to Congress and make it public.
ABC News will be providing live updates throughout the day on all the developments:
9:34 a.m.: AG Barr’s press conference begins
At a news conference Thursday morning, Attorney General William Barr said was committed to providing “the greatest degree of transparency” that is “consistent with the law.”
“As the special counsel report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election process, but thanks to the special counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American for that matter. That is something all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed,” Barr said.
“In other words, there was no evidence of the Trump campaign’s collusion of the Russian government’s hacking.” he said.
Barr held the news conference hours before he was set to send special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report to Congress and make it public, drawing sharp criticism from congressional Democrats.
Barr, after thanking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his efforts, also confirmed that he intends to transmit redacted versions of the report to the chairman and ranking members of the House Judiciary committees.
Rosenstein joined Barr for the news conference Thursday morning.
–ABC News’ Trish Turner and Cheyenne Haslett
8 a.m.: Trump tweets ahead of release
Ahead of the Mueller release, President Trump tweets that the investigation is “the Greatest Political Hoax of all time!”
The Greatest Political Hoax of all time! Crimes were committed by Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019
@realDonaldTrump: The Greatest Political Hoax of all time! Crimes were committed by Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats.
President Trump will have the chance to watch the DOJ press conference at 9:30a this morning — the first thing on his schedule today is the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier ride at 10:30a in the East Room where he is expected to deliver remarks.
8 a.m.: Topics AG Barr is expected to address during his presser
Attorney General William Barr is expected to address three topics during his press conference scheduled for 9:30 this morning, according to Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec.
Those three topics are:
Executive privilege and whether it was involved
White House interactions with the Department of Justice over the past several weeks since the last letter issued by Barr on March 29.
The redaction process.
The press conference is expected to last 20-30 minutes.
— ABC News’ Jack Date
8 a.m.: Mueller arrives at office, not attending Barr newser
Special counsel Robert Mueller arrived at his office as he usually does, driving himself in his Subaru. He will not attend Barr’s news conference at the Justice Department, a spokesman said.
— ABC News’ Erica King
7:42 a.m.: Barr arrives at Justice Department
Attorney General William Barr arrived at the Justice Department in a two-car detail ahead of his controversial news conference later this morning.
— ABC News’ Luke Barr
6:15 a.m.: Top Democrats call for Mueller to testify before Congress ‘as soon as possible’
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Barr’s handing of the report release has created a “crisis of confidence” and said having Mueller testify was the “only way to begin restoring public trust.”
“Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality,” they said.
“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth,” Schumer and Pelosi said in the statement.
– ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky
Mueller submitted his findings to the Justice Department on March 22, and Barr spent the next two days reviewing the document before releasing his initial letter to Congress.
Since then, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for the full release of Mueller’s report.
House Democrats set a deadline for Barr to release the full report by April 2, but the attorney general declined that request, citing the need to redact sensitive grand jury material, information legally blocked from public release, information that could compromise intelligence sources and methods, and any “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Though Thursday’s anticipated release of a redacted version of Mueller’s report may answer lawmakers’ demands for more information, it will likely be met with calls for even more.
In a letter from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent just hours after Barr’s initial letter, the Democratic leaders wrote that “Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise.”
The amount of underlying documents supporting the report is expected to be substantial. In his letter Barr wrote that “the Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants” and “interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.”
Mueller’s full report covers the scope of an investigation lead by a team of federal prosecutors that lasted 22 months and lead to 37 indictments and seven guilty pleas. Some of the cases related to the special counsel’s probe are ongoing and have since been turned over to prosecutors in U.S. Attorney’s offices.