Reuters Washington, DC, USA
Feb 21, 2019, 12.24 PM
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the newly confirmed US attorney general should be the person who decides whether to publicly release the much-anticipated Russia report, which could be completed as early as next week.
The remarks came as CNN reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has headed the probe since May 2017, could deliver his final report next week, possibly when Trump travels to Asia for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Asked at the White House whether Mueller should release the text while the president is out of the country, a subdued Trump said "that will be totally up to the new attorney general," Bill Barr.
On whether the report should be made public, the president again deferred: "From what I understand, that will be totally up to the attorney general."
"He's a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department," Trump added.
Mueller has been investigating allegations that Russia interfered in the last US presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign colluded in that effort.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the probe as a "witch hunt," while some Democrats have accused him of obstructing justice.
Barr has been in the job just one week, and lawmakers are keen to learn how much of Mueller's findings Barr and the Justice Department will disclose to Congress.
Barr was strongly critical of the Mueller investigation in 2017 while he was in the private sector. During the recent confirmation process he notably declined to commit to making Mueller's report public, something which has bothered many Democrats.
Congressional Democrats, reacting to the report that Mueller might soon deliver the results of his investigation, demanded it be released publicly.
"I believe AG Barr must make the #MuellerReport public so all can learn how #Russia meddled in the 2016 election & whether that crime was aided & abetted by @realDonaldTrump or his campaign," congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said on Twitter.
The President's remarks came after reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has headed the probe since May 2017, could deliver his final report next week.