Ex-prosecutor: Rosenstein looked like a 'hostage' during Barr press conference

Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi criticized Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Barr says he's working to protect presidency, not Trump Press: Justin Amash breaks ranks with party MORE's Thursday press conference on the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's Russia investigation report, saying Justice Department officials came off looking bad.

"The optics of that press conference were horrible," Rossi told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball. 

"First off, [Deputy Attorney General] Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinKlobuchar: 'Don't think' there are reasons to investigate Mueller probe's origins Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Barr dismisses contempt vote as part of 'political circus' MORE looked like he was a hostage for God's sakes. Did you see his eyes? And who was the other guy?" he continued. 

Barr held a press conference prior to the release of the redacted Mueller report, in which he was flanked by Rosenstein and acting principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan. 

Rossi drew attention to the absence of Mueller from the press conference. 

"I saw those two people behind Barr, I'm thinking to myself, where's Robert Mueller?" 

Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the special counsel's office, had said on Wednesday that no one from its prosecution team would be present at the press conference. 

Carr did not specify why Mueller or his team were not attending. 

Barr submitted Mueller's long-anticipated report to Congress on Thursday, also making the redacted version available to the public. In the report, Mueller details the findings of his 22-month investigation, saying there was no evidence of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian election meddling in 2016. Mueller also declined to take a position on whether Trump obstructed justice with the probe.

The report is redacted to hide grand jury material, classified information, details about ongoing investigations and information that could implicate the privacy of “peripheral” third parties.

— Julia Manchester