Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended attorney general William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, just days after Barr testified before a House appropriations subcommittee.
In his first interview since the Mueller investigation wrapped up, Rosenstein said that he believed it was strange to say the attorney general was misleading the public on the highly-anticipated report.
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“He’s being as forthcoming as he can, and so this notion that he’s trying to mislead people, I think is just completely bizarre,” Mr. Rosenstein told the Wall Street Journal.
“It would be one thing if you put out a letter and said, ‘I’m not going to give you the report,’” Rosenstein said. “What he said is, ‘Look, it’s going to take a while to process the report. In the meantime, people really want to know what’s in it. I’m going to give you the top-line conclusions.’ That’s all he was trying to do.”
The deputy attorney general called on the public to have “tremendous confidence” in Barr and declined to say how the review of the report was going.
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During hearings on Capitol Hill this week, Barr defended his decision to send a letter to Congress detailing Mueller’s principal conclusions because the public would not have tolerated waiting weeks for information. Mueller concluded his nearly two-year Russia investigation in late March and submitted the nearly 400-page confidential report to Barr.
The attorney general sent his four-page letter to Congress two days later.
Barr wrote in his letter that Mueller found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion despite efforts by “Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” He also said that Mueller had not exonerated President Trump on the issue of obstruction of justice.
Barr said on Tuesday a redacted version of Mueller’s report will be made public within a week.
Rosenstein, 54, told the Wall Street Journal he hopes to begin a new job toward the end of the summer. Earlier this year, Trump announced he will nominate Jeff Rosen to replace Rosenstein deputy attorney general. President Trump has threatened to fire Rosenstein, who said he stayed in his position at the Department of Justice “at Barr’s request” saying, “For me, it’s a real privilege.”
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Rosenstein’s comments come after Barr said in Capitol Hill testimony that “spying did occur” against the 2016 Trump campaign. Former FBI Director James Comey claimed he had no idea what the Justice Department leader was talking about.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about so it’s hard for me to comment,” Comey said. “When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance. I have never thought of that as spying.”
Fox News’ Gregg Re, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.