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Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Appropriations Committee today, and, with few exceptions, nobody wanted to ask him about the Department of Justice's budget. Instead, most of the talk was about the True and Unredacted Mueller Report, which Barr made clear he has no intention of Congress ever seeing, and it's ALL BILL CLINTON'S FAULT. But don't be blue, because Barr said he should have his very redacted version of the report to Congress sometime next week and that'll be that. Also, no, he has no plans to ask a judge to release to Congress the grand jury testimony behind the Mueller report, because that would be telling.

Barr explained he's well along in the process of scrubbing the report of any stuff that he believes can't be released, explaining again that he has to redact anything that would reveal intelligence information, that might affect ongoing investigations, that was based on grand jury testimony, or that would invade the privacy of "peripheral players." Barr was not even asked whether Donald Trump had tried to convince him that he and his family were all peripheral to the investigation, which given Trump's tendency to say he barely knew major players, seems like something Democrats should look into. But once all the redactin's done, Congress can have at it, Barr explained.


This process is going along very well and my original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands [...] And so I think that from my standpoint, within a week I will be in a position to release the report to the public.

Yes, yes, he saw the summaries written by Mueller's investigators, but he chose not to include them, because a summary is a messy thing and he's quite certain he hit the main points, no collusion, no collusion, hallelujah. Asked about reports that investigators considered his four-page masterpiece insufficient, Barr said that was tough:

I suspect that they probably wanted more put out. But, in my view I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize because I think any summary, regardless of who prepares it, not only runs the risk of being under inclusive or over inclusive but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should wait [until] everything coming out at once.

Also, by "everything" he means only the portion of "everything" he decides Congress can have.

As for Congress ever getting the full report, or the grand jury testimony underlying it, forget it, said Barr. He explained that the law keeping grand jury testimony secret is very clear, and he feels bound by it, and even though the grand jury and special prosecutor in Watergate got a judge's permission to release a report to Congress, it is not 1974 and also shut up.

Mr. Barr was asked whether his Justice Department would be willing to join a similar motion to allow Congress to see the grand-jury material that Mr. Mueller gathered.

But Mr. Barr said he has no such intention. He said if House Judiciary Committee members want to see that material, they can ask the judge.

"The chairman of the Judiciary Committee is free to go to court if he feels one of those exceptions is applicable," Mr. Barr said, adding: "My intention is not to ask for it at this stage. I mean, if the chairman has a good explanation of why 6(e) does not apply and his need for the information, I'm willing to listen."

Look, his hands are tied. The law is the law, and he has to follow the law, because it's not like this is about immigration. He could ask a judge, but he won't and that's the end of it.

Barr cleverly sidestepped questions by Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, who wanted to know about Donald Trump's insistence that the report constituted a "complete and total exoneration," even though Barr's own letter quoted Mueller's statement that the report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction. Lowey asked twice, but instead of answering, Barr simply said everyone can look at the report when it comes out, and he won't say anything more about it, OKAY, NITA? Maybe somewhere in the unredacted parts you'll find your answer.

Lowey also got a complete non-answer to her question about whether Trump or anyone in the White house had seen or been briefed on the report. Barr cleverly explained the (heavily redacted) report will be released soon, and he's definitely not saying more than that.

Barr also scolded Democrats for having complained after the full Starr report on Bill Clinton's penis became public, and why are members of Congress today so hot on getting the full Mueller report when it let the independent counsel law lapse in 1999 and then replaced it with the current law, huh? HUH?

"This whole mechanism for the special counsel, as I said, was established during the Clinton administration in the wake of Ken Starr's report," Mr. Barr said. "That's why the current rule says the report should be kept confidential, because there was a lot of reaction against the publication of Ken Starr's report and many of the people who are right now calling for release of this report were basically castigating Ken Starr and others for releasing the Starr
report" [...]

"You will recognize that I'm operating under a regulation that was put together during the Clinton administration and does not provide for the publication of the report," Mr. Barr said. "But I am relying on my own discretion to make as much public as I can."

Mind you, House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler already made the more relevant point last week after President Tweetshits called him a hypocrite:

"In 1998, the debate was not about Congress receiving evidence. Congress had already received the full, 445-page report and 17 boxes of additional documents, including grand jury material," Nadler said. "We are owed that same opportunity today."

Don't be silly, Mr. Nadler. You are owed only what Bill Barr believes you should have, and nothing more. That's what America means, you know.

[CNN / NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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