In a joint statement Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called on special counsel Robert Mueller to publicly testify before Congress, citing what they called Attorney General William Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling” of Mueller’s report about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
The statement came on the heels of Barr’s announcement late Wednesday that he would hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday—about an hour before the redacted report is to be released to members of Congress and the public—to publicly discuss its conclusions. The Democratic leaders slammed Barr’s plan as an effort to control the report’s narrative on behalf of President Donald Trump and urged Mueller to appear before Congress.
“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement. “The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
Barr’s decision to hold a press conference right before the report’s release has infuriated Democrats. Adding to lawmakers’ frustrations, the New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Justice Department has already had several conversations with White House staffers about the report’s conclusions. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, speaking to reporters shortly after Barr revealed his plans for a press conference, accused the attorney general of “waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump.”
“Attorney General Barr is not allowing the facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves,” Nadler charged, “but is trying to bake in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House.”