Some members of Mueller's investigative team have been quoted recently in US media reports as saying that Barr unfairly summarized the report.
Barr reiterated the four categories of information he wants to redact from the Mueller report before its release.
But if the concealed grand jury material seems like it is central to understanding some of Trump's most troubling behavior, or that of important figures in his orbit or in positions of power, then the impetus for Democrats to get access to the testimony will be strong. Barr, with Mueller's assistance, has spent weeks redacting material that might compromise ongoing investigations or intelligence-gathering sources and methods.
The hearing on Tuesday before a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee was meant to explore the Trump administration's $29 billion fiscal 2020 budget request for the Justice Department. "Until someone shows me a provision" permitting the release of grand jury material, Barr said, "Congress doesn't get" that material.
The congressman pressed Mr. Barr to support a stay of any ruling against Obamacare until Congress forges new protections, since Mr. Trump has made a decision to punt GOP work on health reform until after the 2020 election.
He is likely to be asked to further explain himself at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that is also on the budget. "And we will have that discussion".
In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Barr also dealt a blow to a Democratic talking point regarding a letter he sent to Congress on March 24 laying out special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusions.
The president's critics questioned whether Barr soft-pedaled Mueller's findings, concerns that intensified after recent reports that indicated some on Mueller's team are unhappy with the brevity of Barr's initial report to Congress and believe more could and should be said about the seriousness of what they found.
Barr's four-page synopsis of Mueller's report said that the Special Counsel did not find that anyone in Trump's campaign conspired with Russian Federation to interfere in the election and that Mueller did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump sought to obstruct justice.
That's why Nadler and his colleagues say they're so eager to see Mueller's full findings and discoveries, without relying on the interpretation provided by the attorney general. "And in many ways, your letter raises more questions than it answers".
"Even for someone who has done this job before", Lowey said, "I would argue it's more suspicious than impressive".
Cartwright countered that Barr is devoting the Justice Department's "scarce resources" to the case.
The chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee, Democratic representative Jose Serrano of NY, told Mr Barr there were "serious concerns about the process by which you formulated your letter; and uncertainty about when we can expect to see the full report". "We're not here today to be in a confrontational situation with you". The regulations do not allow Mueller to publish his own findings, like what happened under Kenneth Starr's report on Clinton. I understand that portions of it must be redacted as a matter of law, but my hope is that you will stop there and bring transparency to this process as soon as possible.
Lowey said the Judiciary Committee has the responsibility and right to subpoena the full report and fight to see any redacted information. Just in case Barr fails to release the full report, the House Judiciary Committee has authorized a subpoena for the document. One issue he stressed was a need for immigration judges.