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Barr returns to Capitol Hill, where he'll face more Mueller questions

Posted at 7:59 AM, Apr 10, 2019

Attorney General William Barr is back on Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify at another hearing on the Justice Department budget that's sure to be filled with more swirling questions over special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Barr is appearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee one day after he testified before a House subcommittee and answered many -- though not all -- questions from lawmakers about the release of Mueller's nearly 400 page report.

At the House hearing, Barr said he expected to release a redacted version of the Mueller report within a week, with plans to color-code redactions and provide an explanation for why material was not released publicly.

But Barr sparred with House Democrats who pressed him on why he would not release grand jury material or provide the full, unredacted Mueller report to Congress.

"I don't intend at this stage to send the full, unredacted report to the committee," Barr said, adding that wouldn't ask a court to release grand jury material "Until someone shows me a provision" that allows it to be released.

In the House, Barr was squaring off with Democrats who have subpoena power and have already authorized a subpoena in the Judiciary Committee to obtain the full Mueller report and underlying evidence. Democratic lawmakers expressed frustration after the hearing that Barr wouldn't answer certain questions, such as whether the White House had been briefed about the Mueller report.

In the Republican-controlled Senate, the threat of a subpoena is significantly lower for Barr, but he'll still have to face off with Democratic senators who are likely to push him on the report redactions as well as his four-page summary of Mueller's conclusions.

Three Democrats on the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee are also members of the Senate Judiciary Committee where will Barr will testify on the Mueller report next month, including the top Judiciary Committee Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is also a member of the appropriations subcommittee and will question Barr Wednesday ahead of the May 1 hearing in his committee.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, one of the Democrats on both committees, told CNN this week that he wanted to ask Barr about "the thoroughness of his redactions."

"If this is a 400-page report ... to send us a four-page summary that just talks about the high-level conclusions is potentially misleading," Coons said. "So I think it's important in our oversight role to release the full report to Congress."

In addition to questions about the Mueller report, Barr is likely to be queried on the Justice Department lawsuit about the Affordable Care Act, as well as the Trump administration's immigration policies and family separation.