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House Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report

A group of House Democrats on Wednesday called for Attorney General William Barr to cancel his planned press conference Thursday morning ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. 

"The Department of Justice announced today that the Attorney General will hold a press conference tomorrow morning before Congress has even seen Special Counsel Mueller's report," they said in a statement.

"This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it," they continued.

The statement was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (Md.), Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (Calif.), and Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (N.Y.).

Barr is slated to hold a press conference with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday morning to discuss Mueller's findings from his investigation into Russian election interference and President Trump. 

Democratic lawmakers have slammed the news conference as a way to spin the findings of Mueller's investigation before the public has seen the full report, which is reportedly 400 pages long. 

The House Democrats also expressed concerns over a report in The New York Times Wednesday that said Justice Department officials have already briefed the White House on Mueller's report.

The newspaper reported Wednesday night that DOJ officials have had "numerous conversations" with the Trump administration, and that the discussions have allowed for the president's legal team to prepare a rebuttal to Mueller's report. 

"There is no legitimate reason for the Department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report," the Democrats said. 

"These new actions by the Attorney General reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump. The Attorney General previously stated, 'I do not believe it would be in the public's interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.' We agree," they added.

"He should let the full report speak for itself," the chairmen continued. "The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel's fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress' responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly."

Mueller concluded in March his 22-month-long investigation into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. Barr said in a four-page summary to Congress that Mueller did not uncover sufficient evidence to conclude coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Barr's summary said Mueller did not implicate or exonerate the president on the matter of obstruction of justice. Many lawmakers have called for the release of the full report in the weeks since Barr sent his summary to Congress. 

The report is scheduled to be sent to Congress with redactions after Barr's press conference.

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