DOJ defends Barr’s summary of Mueller report

William Barr, U.S. Attorney General . Photo by DOJ.

The Department of Justice released a statement defending Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller report. The statement is in response to reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team are dissatisfied with Barr’s characterization of the nearly two year investigation.

In the statement, Department of Justice Kerri Kupec Spokeswoman explains the reasoning behind Barr’s four page summary of the Mueller report instead of releasing the full report.

“Every page of the “confidential report” provided to Attorney General Barr on March 22, 2019 was marked “May Contain Material Protected Under Fed. R. Crim. P.6(e)” – a law that protects confidential grand jury information – and therefore could not be publicly released. Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the Attorney General decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process.  As the Attorney General stated in his March 29th letter to Chairman Graham and Chairman Nadler, he does not believe the report should be released in ‘serial or piecemeal fashion.’ The Department continues to work with the special counsel on appropriate redactions to the report so that it can be released to Congress and the public.”

Kerri Kupec DOJ Spokeswoman

The New York Times and the Washington Post both published stories late Wednesday evening indicating some individuals who have worked on the special counsel’s team believe the way Barr characterized Mueller’s findings is not accurate.

Sources told the Times Mueller’s findings are more damaging to President Trump than Barr indicated in his letter to Congress on March 24, in which he only briefly cited Mueller’s report. The Post reported that members of the special counsel’s team have told associates of the alarming and significant nature of the evidence of obstruction gathered, with one individual telling the Post, “It was much more acute than Barr suggested.”

The Washington Post reports that the investigators were unhappy that the attorney general did not release the summaries the team had prepared. One official told the Post, “There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead.”

That same official said there were summaries prepared for each section of the report, with the understanding they would be made public. “The front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly. It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself,” the official said.

The Times reports that members of Mueller’s notoriously leak-free team are concerned at the impression Barr’s summary has left in the minds of the public.

Per NBC, members of the team have communicated their frustration with Barr’s clearing the president of obstruction. Three officials told NBC that Mueller’s team could not reach a decision as to whether Trump’s conduct was an illegal attempt to end the investigation. One faction within Mueller’s team believes Mueller’s intent was to leave the question of legality to Congress and the public. However, Justice Department officials say that Barr had no choice but to come to a conclusion about obstruction since Mueller did not. Barr is, according to special counsel regulations, in charge of the investigation.

Barr missed the House Judiciary Committee deadline of April 2 for submitting the full, unredacted report to Congress. On Wednesday, the Judicary Committee authorized a subpoena of the full Mueller report and Chairman Jerry Nadler said he would not accept redactions in lieu of the full report. The Attorney General continues to plan to submit the redacted report to Congress by mid-April.

While President Trump has been tweeting about the New York Times being forced to apologize to him for their “very bad reporting” on him, Rudy Guiliani, President Trump’s lawyer, weighed in on the reports from Mueller’s team while on Fox News. He said, “They’re a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers. And they are rabid Democrats who hate the president of the United States, and I can’t tell you how much false information they leaked during the course of the investigation.”

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