Mar 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge questions Barr's "candor" and "credibility" on Mueller report

Bill Barr

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

D.C. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered Thursday the Justice Department to submit the full unredacted Mueller report for his review, stating that Attorney General Bill Barr's representations of the report prior to its release preclude him from accepting the Justice Department's redactions without "independent verification."

Why it matters: It's a rare instance of a federal judge, who filed the order as part of a freedom of information lawsuit by BuzzFeed News, calling into question the motives and impartiality of the attorney general in a politically explosive investigation.

Context: On March 24, Barr sent Congress his summary of the "principal conclusions" from the Mueller report, which stated that the special counsel found that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia and that the Justice Department determined President Trump did not obstruct justice.

  • On March 27, Mueller sent a letter to Barr objecting to his March 24 characterization of the report.
  • The Justice Department later issued a statement defending Barr's letter, reiterating that it was a summary of his "principal conclusions" and not an attempt to summarize the report itself.

What they're saying:

"The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report — a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report. ...
These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility and in turn, the Department’s representation that 'all of the information redacted from the version of the [Mueller] Report released by [ ] Attorney General [Barr]' is protected from disclosure by its claimed FOIA exemptions."
— Judge Reggie Walton

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full order.

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