Attorney General William Barr will give the White House an opportunity to redact Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report before it is shared with the public, Business Insider reports. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election would be shared first with the Trump administration in order to give them the opportunity to assert any claims of executive privilege before the report is made available to the public.
Graham, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that the process would take a matter of weeks, not months, to complete, potentially setting a vague timeline for the eventual release of some version of the report.
Barr’s decision to allow the White House to review and redact the document runs directly contrary to previous statements he has made before Congress. As Business Insider reported in January, Barr was asked pointedly about this exact scenario during his confirmation hearings, when Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy inquired as to whether Barr, if confirmed, would allow the president to “correct” the report prior to it being made public.
Barr’s response was quite clear.
“That will not happen,” he responded.
Still, Trump’s team even then was already laying the groundwork for the executive privilege argument. The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at the time indicated that the White House “reserves its privilege,” though then no one had a clear idea of how much longer the investigation would last or when the report would ultimately land.
Still, Giuliani did share his thoughts on the possibility of waiving that privilege.
“[If] we had an adequate opportunity to review the report before it was released to the public; if we felt that — even if we disagreed with its findings — it was fair; and if we had the chance to release a rebuttal report simultaneously that addresses all of Mueller’s allegations,” he said.
Even so, several months later, it is unclear what will happen with the release of the report. So far Congress and the American people have been privy to only a brief summary compiled by Barr himself, and as of this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained steadfast in his determination to block from a vote a resolution to make the report public in full, similar to the one passed unanimously by the House of Representatives.
Barr will face great scrutiny as the report moves forward, as many critics have from the beginning of his consideration for attorney general suggested that he was being put in place as a political ally for Trump in anticipation of this exact scenario.