On Wednesday, both NBC’s Today show and ABC’s Good Morning America promoted congressional Democrats complaining about Attorney General William Barr’s testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the upcoming release of the Mueller report. Little or no attention was given to Republicans as anchors and reporters warned of “Democrats still not happy.”
“Round two. Attorney General William Barr facing another grilling on Capitol Hill this morning after saying he will release an edited version of the Mueller report within a week. Democrats still not happy,” Today co-host Savannah Guthrie announced at the top of the morning show. Introducing the segment minutes later, fellow co-host Hoda Kotb reiterated: “His announcement not satisfying many Democrats in Congress.”
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander lamented that during Tuesday’s House budget hearing, Barr “largely brushed off the criticism from Democrats, who are renewing their threat to subpoena the entire thing if he doesn’t give it to Congress.”
“Democrats have fiercely criticized Barr’s approach, demanding to see Mueller’s full report,” the reporter reminded viewers before playing a soundbite of New York Congressman Jose Serrano lecturing the Attorney General: “I think it would strike a serious blow to our system, and yes, to our democracy, if that report is not fully seen.”
Alexander also pushed anonymous reports that “members of Mueller’s team have told associates that on the issue of obstruction of justice the report is more critical of the President than Barr suggested.”
He briefly noted that “Top Republicans argue the Special Counsel’s is closed,” featuring a clip of Georgia Congressman Tom Grave expressing that sentiment: “And the conclusions were simple, no collusion, no obstruction.”
Brushing that argument aside, Alexander emphasized: “Still, House Democrats say Barr is covering for his boss.” A soundbite ran of New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey claiming: “It’s clear to me that he acted as an appointee of the President of the United States and his allegiance was to the President, and it may not necessarily be the truth.”
Following the taped report, Kotb concluded that “it’s clear the Democrats do want to see that full report.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos similarly framed coverage of the Barr hearing: “The Attorney General promised the Mueller report within days, but Democrats unlikely to be satisfied with what he releases.” Moments later, senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce piled on: “But that is not going to cut it for Democrats that I've talked to up here. They are still demanding the full report and the underlying evidence.”
In addition to hyping partisan concerns over the Mueller report, Stephanopoulos seized on “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also on Capitol Hill yesterday getting tough questions about the President’s tax returns.” Bruce fretted: “Today is the deadline the Democrats have set, but it seems this deadline is going to come and go without us seeing any action on this issue, George.”
When Democrats have a complaint, it’s a good bet those concerns will become the premise of liberal media reports soon after.
Here is a full report of the April 10 report on NBC’s Today show:
7:00 AM ET TEASE
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Round two. Attorney General William Barr facing another grilling on Capitol Hill this morning after saying he will release an edited version of the Mueller report within a week. Democrats still not happy.
REP. ED CASE [D-HI]: This is what drives the public crazy, when they see something like this [holding up redacted pages]. This is what we have to try to avoid.
7:08 AM ET SEGMENT
HODA KOTB: To Washington now and the showdown over the Mueller report. Attorney General William Barr back on Capitol Hill today after vowing to soon release a redacted version of the Special Counsel’s findings. His announcement not satisfying many Democrats in Congress. We do have complete coverage. We’re going to start with NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander. Hey, Peter. Good morning.
PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Hoda, good morning to you. The Attorney General will testify today before the Senate Appropriations Committee after yesterday’s hearing before its counterpart in the House. William Barr said the process of redacting the Mueller report is, in his words, “going very well.” But he largely brushed off the criticism from Democrats, who are renewing their threat to subpoena the entire thing if he doesn’t give it to Congress.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Round Two for Barr; Attorney General to Face More Mueller Report Questions]
This morning, day two. Attorney General William Barr returning to Capitol Hill to face more questions over his handling of the release of the report. Barr says he’ll hand it over soon.
WILLIAM BARR: Within a week, I will be in a position to release the report to the public.
ALEXANDER: But Barr says Americans won’t see the entire nearly 400-page report, saying Congress and the public will get a version with redactions. The Attorney General vowing, with the help of Mueller’s team, to be transparent about what he’s blacking out. Including grand jury material and portions that would compromise ongoing investigations.
BARR: I am relying on my own discretion to make as much public as I can.
ALEXANDER: Democrats have fiercely criticized Barr’s approach, demanding to see Mueller’s full report.
REP. JOSE SERRANO [D-NY]: I think it would strike a serious blow to our system, and yes, to our democracy, if that report is not fully seen.
ALEXANDER: Barr summarized the report’s main conclusions in a four-page letter to lawmakers last month. But according to a U.S. official, members of Mueller’s team have told associates that on the issue of obstruction of justice the report is more critical of the President than Barr suggested. Barr said Tuesday he accurately reported Mueller’s conclusions and revealed that he offered Mueller a chance to review his letter and that Mueller declined.
Top Republicans argue the Special Counsel’s is closed.
REP. TOM GRAVES [R-GA]: And the conclusions were simple, no collusion, no obstruction.
ALEXANDER: Still, House Democrats say Barr is covering for his boss.
REP. NITA LOWEY [D-NY]: It’s clear to me that he acted as an appointee of the President of the United States and his allegiance was to the President, and it may not necessarily be the truth.
ALEXANDER: For their part, the President’s lawyers say they have yet to see the report. The White House has declined to comment. President Trump himself has repeated calls to investigate the investigators, and Barr testified that within the next couple of months, before the end of June, he said, the Justice Department Inspector General will wrap up a review into key aspects of the Russia inquiry, including how the FBI handled the counterintelligence investigation in its early days. Savannah and Hoda?
KOTB: Peter, well, it’s clear the Democrats do want to see that full report. And in some cases that would require a judge to sign off on this. So what did Barr say about that?
ALEXANDER: Yeah, that’s a good point you make, Hoda. Many of the redactions in the report that Barr ultimately makes public will be secret grand jury material. Information that has to stay secret unless a judge says otherwise. But Barr said that he has no plans to make that argument in court. He says if House Democrats want to see that material, they can go to a judge themselves. Back to you.
KOTB: Alright, Peter Alexander at the White House. Peter, thanks.
Here is a full transcript of the April 10 report on ABC’s GMA:
7:07 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Also in Washington, Attorney General William Barr faces more questions about the Mueller report today as the clock ticks on the deadline set by Democrats for the release of President Trump’s tax returns. Our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce is tracking it all. And Mary, the Attorney General promised the Mueller report within days, but Democrats unlikely to be satisfied with what he releases.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bracing for the Mueller Report; Attorney General to Release Redacted Version Within Days]
MARY BRUCE: Yeah, George. Well, the Attorney General says the report will be released within a week, but it will not be the full report, there will be some redactions. Now, Bill Barr is promising to be as transparent as possible, including even saying that he’s going to color code those redactions so the public can see why certain information is being withheld. But that is not going to cut it for Democrats that I've talked to up here. They are still demanding the full report and the underlying evidence.
Now, Bill Barr will be back up here for round two today and he is expected to be grilled once again on his handling of this report, on how he came to his conclusions, and also any communications that he’s had with the White House, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, he wouldn’t answer that question yesterday. It seems like he may have briefed the White House on the full report right there.
Meantime, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also on Capitol Hill yesterday getting tough questions about the President’s tax returns.
BRUCE: Yeah, and the Treasury Secretary says he is reviewing this request and that the administration will follow the law. But, George, he notably did not give a clear answer on whether they’re going to actually comply with this request. The President insisted that he can’t turn over his tax returns while he is under an ongoing audit, but his acting chief of staff has said the Democrats are never going to get their hands on his tax returns. Today is the deadline the Democrats have set, but it seems this deadline is going to come and go without us seeing any action on this issue, George. It does seem that this fight could be headed towards the courts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah and he could also take questions today, Mary, about whether he coordinated with the White House on this issue, which some Democrats believe is against the law.
BRUCE: Yeah, he did mention yesterday that there may have been some communication between the two groups. It is something that I’m sure Democrats are going to continue to demand answers on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce, thanks very much.