Responding to Sen. Jack Reed's (D-R.I.) question about whether he'd also call it a "witchhunt", Barr said, "I'm not going to characterize". While a four-page letter released by Barr summarizing Mueller's main conclusions said the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russian Federation and Trump associates around the time of the 2016 election, it also said Mueller had presented evidence on both sides of the obstruction question and ultimately did not reach a conclusion on it. "I'm not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it's important to look at that", he continued.
"This is not launching an investigation of the FBI", he insisted, while adding: "I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelon" of the FBI.
That's what Barr is telling Congress during his testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing.
The comments, confirming a report by Bloomberg News, indicate that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pursuing for more than a year - that the investigation into President Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russian Federation was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department. The one possible exception he left open: If the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees wanted to see the full report, Barr seems to suggest he would be willing to talk to them about that.
Democrats said they were concerned that a four-page summary letter of the report's main conclusions Barr released last month portrayed the investigation's findings in an overly favourable way for Trump.
Mueller report will be released within a week: USA attorney general
The attorney general made no mention of Mueller's report or the Russian Federation investigation in his opening statement. He said the White House did not review the letter to Congress laying out Mueller's findings before he sent it.
Some news from Barr: He says Mueller did NOT say that he meant to punt the question to Congress on whether Trump obstructed justice; He said that Mueller did not ask the AG to make the decision either. Barr told a House Appropriations panel on Tuesday that he expected the inspector general's work to be completed by May or June. One such example is a text message one of the lead agents on the case, Peter Strzok, sent to Lisa Page, who at the time was special counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying "we'll stop" Trump from becoming President.
"I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016", Barr said Wednesday.
Barr's reference to "spying" may refer to a secret surveillance warrant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained in the fall of 2016 to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has denied being a Russian spy. Which suggests, at least to me, that the White House either has or could see the report before its release.
Justice Department officials are scouring the report to remove grand jury information and details relating to pending investigations, among other materials.
Aderholt was referring to the "Steele Dossier" that had been put together as opposition research against Trump, including with funding from Democrats.