EXCLUSIVE: Ex-US Attorney (SDNY), Preet Bharara Talks Mueller Report, Redaction, Obstruction

March 29, 2019 - 4:46 pm
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(KNX 1070) -- Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was famously fired by President Donald Trump, spoke with the hosts of In-Depth Friday about his new book, "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment & the Rule of Law," and the expected release of special counsel Rober Mueller's report on the Russia investigation. 

It was announced that a possibly redacted version of Mueller's report will be sent to Congress by mid-April and will not be shared with the White House beforehand, Attorney General William Barr said Friday.

Bharara said he's not sure why we have to wait weeks for the Mueller documents. He adds that he expects the report to show chapter and verse the possible ways that Donald Trump may have engaged in obstructive conduct, but he wants to know why despite the fact it was Robert Mueller's job to make a determination on obstruction of justice, he chose not to.

In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, Barr said he shares a desire for Congress and the public to be able to read Mueller's findings, which are included in the nearly 400-page report the special counsel submitted last week.

While Barr said President Donald Trump would have the right to assert executive privilege over parts of the report, Trump "has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review."

Mueller officially concluded his investigation when he submitted the report last Friday. Two days later, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress that detailed Mueller's "principal conclusions."

Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Russia, Barr wrote, and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided on their own that Mueller's evidence was insufficient to establish that the president committed obstruction.

Barr said he is preparing to redact multiple categories of information from the report and Mueller is helping the Justice Department identify sections that will be blacked out in the public version.

Those include grand jury material, information that would compromise sensitive sources and methods; information that could affect ongoing investigations, including those referred by Mueller's office to other Justice Department offices and information that could infringe on the personal privacy and reputation of "peripheral third parties."

"Our progress is such that I anticipate we will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner," Barr wrote.

Barr said last week's letter detailing Mueller's "principal conclusions" was not intended to be an "exhaustive recounting" of the special counsel's investigation.

Barr described Mueller's report as nearly 400 pages long, not including the tables and supporting materials, which he said sets forth Mueller's analysis, findings and the reasons for his conclusions.

"Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own," Barr wrote. "I do not believe it would be in the public's interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion."

Barr's letter drew a quick — and critical — response from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who had demanded the full Mueller report by April 2.

Nadler, D-N.Y., said that deadline still stands and called on Barr to join him in working to get a court order allowing the release of grand jury information to the committee, rather than spending "valuable time and resources" keeping portions of the report from Congress.

"There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees," Nadler said in a statement. "Again, Congress must see the full report."

Members of Congress will be in recess for two weeks beginning April 12, which could mean that lawmakers will be out of town when the report is delivered.

(Associated Press contributed to this story)