US attorney general defends Mueller letter

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Media captionAttorney General Barr defends his summary of the Mueller report

The US attorney general has defended his handling of the Russia inquiry amid complaints he misrepresented the special counsel’s findings.

William Barr was grilled about his decision to clear the president of obstruction of justice while appearing before a Senate panel.

His testimony came after revelations that Mr Mueller expressed frustration over the summary of the report.

Mr Mueller is expected to testify to Congress later this month.

The attorney general, the nation’s top legal official, testified for the first time on Wednesday since releasing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which found there was no collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election.

But the report but did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice in his attempts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller.

Mr Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was “frankly surprised” Mr Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether the president had tried to obstruct justice, but that he was “absolutely” confident in his own judgment that Mr Trump did not.

Attorney General Barr also criticised Mr Mueller for not flagging sensitive material, as he requested, creating more work for the justice department to redact grand jury material and delaying the report’s full release to the public.

Mueller ‘frustrated’ with Barr summary

The attorney general’s testimony to Congress came after a letter he received from Mr Mueller was made public, showing the special counsel felt Mr Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of his report’s findings, and caused “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation”.

Democrats claim the summary, which was released nearly a month before the full report, allowed President Donald Trump to wrongly claim that he had been exonerated by its conclusions.

During the hearing, Mr Barr said that Mr Mueller’s concerns did not relate to the accuracy of the summary, but rather with how it was being reported in the media.

“He was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report,” he said.


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