Barr forms team to review FBI's actions in Trump probe

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House Friday

Evan Vucci Associated Press President Donald J. Trump

Attorney General William Barr brushed off a question during a House hearing on Tuesday about whether the White House has seen or was briefed on special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Ever since Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress last month disclosing the "principle conclusions" of the Mueller report, numerous Trump administration's critics have grown increasingly suspicious that Barr is working to protect the president from that report's findings.

They also asked about when and how much of the full report would be released. If Congress agrees, there would be 100 new immigration judges, which the attorney general says are necessary to help address a backlog of about 820,000 pending cases nationwide.

President Donald Trump took a victory lap after special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his Russian Federation investigation.

BARR: Right now the special counsel is working with us on identifying information in the reports that fall under those four categories. But, as widely anticipated, the committee members used the opportunity to press the attorney general on the Mueller collusion probe.

Democrats wrangled with Barr at the hearing over his handling of the report and some accused him of playing favoritism for President Trump.

He also said Mr Mueller "did not draw a conclusion - one way or the other" on whether Mr Trump's actions were considered to be obstruction, ruling that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the president had committed a crime.

Mueller's team, which was barely quoted in Barr's letter, has made clear that it did not exonerate the president.

"I think that's a betrayal to what he promised during his confirmation", Schiff told CNN, referring to Barr's refusal so far to not provide Congress with the full report and underlying evidence. He has also said that Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, instead presenting evidence on both sides of the question.

Barr stressed on Tuesday that he does not intend "at this stage to send the full unredacted report to the committee". Barr's promised release does not satisfy those who do not trust the Trump-appointed AG to handle the redaction process appropriately.

While the USA public has clamored for a full disclosure of the report with as few redactions as possible, Barr said the redactions to the report-currently underway-will be based upon legal requirements concerning material produced by the grand jury, classified intelligence material, information connected to open or ongoing investigations, and material that would impact the privacy or reputations of individuals peripheral to the probe.

Mr Barr said in the summary released last month that Mr Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin.

The committee scheduled the hearing to question Barr over the Department of Justice budget for 2020.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., has been unequivocal in calls for access to the full work product from Mueller's office - not only his report but the testimony, intelligence and other material that supported his findings.

The report, Barr wrote to the House and Senate judiciary committees in a follow-up communication on March 29, outlines Mueller's "findings, his analysis, and the reasons for his conclusions".

It should be noted that Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe, also approved the final FISA extension that is the subject of the IG investigation.

"It's hard to have that discussion without the contents of the report, isn't it, and that's why I'm suggesting that we wait until the report is out, and I'm glad to talk to people after then, and I'm already scheduled to testify about that", he said.

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