- A federal judge said Attorney General William Barr has created public distrust about the special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in the Russia investigation.
- “The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency” about Mueller’s findings, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton said during a hearing Tuesday.
- The hearing was about a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit BuzzFeed News had filed, in which it asked the court to require the Justice Department to release the Mueller report by Thursday.
- The Justice Department has already announced that it will do so, but the lawsuit asked specifically for the release of all information in the report that’s covered under FOIA.
- Barr said he will redact four categories of information from the report, and he has refused to release an un-redacted version of it to Congress or the public.
A federal judge said this week that Attorney General William Barr has sown some public distrust about the contents of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in the FBI’s Russia investigation, Politico reported.
“The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency” about Mueller’s findings, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton said during a hearing Tuesday.
The hearing was about a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from BuzzFeed News seeking to require the Justice Department to release the Mueller report by Thursday.
The Justice Department already announced earlier this week that it would be releasing the highly-anticipated document by Thursday afternoon.
But BuzzFeed’s lawsuit asked the court, specifically, to authorise the release of all portions of the report that are covered under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to Politico, Walton ultimately denied BuzzFeed’s request, despite his criticisms of the attorney general.
However, he added that he plans to “fast track” the issue of the report and what information in it should be disclosed.
He also reportedly said he will consider whether to order the Justice Department to turn over an un-redacted copy of the report to him so he can determine whether the redactions are appropriate.
Barr said last month that he will redact four categories of information from the report:
- Information that went before a grand jury but did not result in criminal charges.
- Information that could compromise intelligence sources and methods.
- Information that could pertain to other ongoing investigative matters.
- Information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Last week, Barr told Congress that he will include colour-coded notes for each redaction that will explain why that piece of information was left out of the version of the report delivered to Congress and the public.
In March, Barr also revealed that nearly every page of the report contains at least some information that needs to be redacted.
Previous special prosecutors – like Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr and Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski – went to court to get a judge’s permission to release as much information to Congress and the public as they could.
But Barr said he will not do the same and will work according to current Justice Department policy and legal guidelines.
Meanwhile, House Democratic lawmakers are pushing hard for an un-redacted version of the report. Democrats argue that it is necessary for Congress to have all the information to properly perform its oversight functions.
They also say Mueller’s decision not to prosecute Trump does not necessarily mean he did not commit impeachable offenses.
Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee voted to authorise subpoenas for the un-redacted report and its underlying evidence.
The Wall Street Journal reported that once it receives a redacted version of the report, committee lawyers and aides plan to comb through the document and determine whether there is a large gap between what they requested from the Justice Department and what the redacted copy of the report provides.
Based on their findings, The Journal reported, the committee will decide whether to subpoena the department for a full version of the report, as well as its underlying evidence.
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