A-G Barr cancels plans to testify about Mueller report
WASHINGTON US Attorney-General William Barr on Wednesday cancelled plan to testify before the House of Representatives about his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, further inflaming tensions between US President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress.
Mr Barr was due to face the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee yesterday, but he pulled out after the two sides were unable to agree on the format for the hearing.
"It is simply part of the administration's complete stonewalling of Congress," Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters.
Justice Department spokesman Kerri Kupec said Mr Nadler's proposal to have committee lawyers question Mr Barr was "unprecedented and unnecessary", saying questions should come from lawmakers.
The department also said it would not comply with a Nadler-issued subpoena seeking an unredacted version of Mr Mueller's report and the underlying investigative files.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Barr spent more than four hours before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee where he fended off Democratic criticism of his decision to clear Mr Trump of criminal obstruction of justice and faulted Mr Mueller for not reaching a conclusion of his own.
Mr Barr said: "If he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecutorial decision, then he shouldn't have investigated."
In his first congressional testimony since releasing a redacted version of the report on April 18, Mr Barr also dismissed Mr Mueller's complaints that he initially disclosed his conclusions on March 24 in an incomplete way that caused confusion.
Illustrating tensions between the two men, Mr Barr described as "a bit snitty" a March 27 letter from Mr Mueller in which he urged Mr Barr to release broader summaries of his findings - a step he rejected. Mr Trump seized on Mr Barr's March 24 memo to declare that he had been fully exonerated.
Democrats have accused Mr Barr of protecting Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, with several calling for Mr Barr's resignation. - REUTERS