Barr cites '10 episodes' in Mueller report detailing possible Trump obstruction

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday held a news conference ahead of his release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — and whether President Trump had attempted to interfere in that probe.

Barr began his press conference repeating his public statements about the Mueller report, emphasizing that no evidence was found proving that Trump campaign associates — or any American — conspired with the Russian influence campaign.

For the first time, however, the attorney general noted that the report details "10 episodes” of possible obstruction on the part of the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting those activities to the elements of an obstruction offense.

Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found that the evidence was "not sufficient" for an obstruction offense and that he never spoke to Mueller about his decision not to file criminal charges against the president.

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William Barr through the years
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William Barr through the years
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 1991 file photo, then Attorney General nominee William Barr is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barr once advised the U.S. government that it could attack Iraq without Congressional approval, arrest a deposed foreign dictator and capture suspects abroad without that country’s permission. Those decisions reflect a broad view of presidential power that Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to reclaim his old attorney general job, demonstrated at the Justice Department and in the years since. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
U.S. President George H. Bush signs into law new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a Rose Garden ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991 in Washington, as Vice President Dan Quayle, left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr look on. The bill signing capped a two-year struggle with congress over whether the legislation encouraged job quotas. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
U.S. President George H. Bush, right, and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as the new Attorney General of the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1991 at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)
U.S. President George H. Bush gestures while talking to Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 4, 1992 in Washington. The President met with top domestic Cabinet officers to tackle long-range problems pushed to the forefront by last week's deadly riots in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Board member of MCI Telecommunications, Nicholas Katzenbach, second left, speaks at hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on "The WorldCom Case: Looking at Bankruptcy and Competition Issues" on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 22, 2003. Witnesses are, from left, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Communications William Barr, Katzenbach, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP's Marcia Goldstein, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr, National Bankruptcy Conference Vice-Chair Douglas Baird, Cerberus Capital Management Chief Operation Officer Mark Neporent. (AP Photo/Akira Ono)
Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, left, listens as William Redpath, Libertarian Party national chairman, answers a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. (AP Photo)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, arrives to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, right, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General nominee William Barr , left, turns to answer a reporter's question as he arrives to meet with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Prior to Thursday’s news conference, the White House counsel was given a copy of the report, but Trump had decided not to invoke executive privilege to redact the document further before its public release, Barr said.

Sounding at times like a defense lawyer for the president, Barr noted that Trump "was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief" that the probe undermined him. Barr also faulted the media for Trump’s impatience, noting the "relentless speculation in the news media about the president's personal culpability."

When asked whether it was proper for the attorney general to be “spinning the report before the public gets a chance to read it,” Barr responded, “No.”

While Barr said he would not object to Mueller testifying before Congress, he also portrayed the special counsel’s report as having been written for him.

“Was [Mueller] invited to join you up on the podium? Why is he not here? This is his report obviously that you're talking about today,” a reporter asked.

"No, it's not. It's a report he did for me, as the attorney general,” Barr replied.

At the conclusion of the press conference, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the House Intelligence Committee, promptly sent a letter to Mueller requesting that he testify.

On Wednesday evening, Nadler reacted angrily to news that Barr would hold his news conference prior to the public release of Mueller’s report.

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that the White House is being briefed on the Mueller report ahead of its release,” said Nadler.

Barr previously said he would keep portions of the report secret that contained information presented to a grand jury, material that might compromise intelligence officials’ sources and methods, or parts that could hamper ongoing investigations. He also said he would withhold portions of the document that the Justice Department considered damaging to “peripheral third parties.”

Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017, days after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, submitted his nearly 400-page report to Barr on March 22. Barr then released a four-page summary of Mueller’s key findings, which Trump and his supporters said warranted the president’s “complete and total exoneration.”

Members of Mueller’s team were reportedly unhappy with Barr’s summary because they did not believe it accurately depicted the concerns and evidence that the special counsel’s investigation had turned up.

Since the completion of Mueller’s report, Democrats in Congress, who are seeking more information about why Barr did not charge Trump with obstruction of justice, have been calling for its full release.

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