A federal judge who questioned Attorney General William Barr’s “credibility” has received an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Justice Department attorneys say that the release of the document was in pursuance to two orders this month by District Court Judge Reggie Walton.
Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the court had “grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report” and its “impacts on the Justice Department’s subsequent justifications” that its redactions of the report were authorized under the Freedom of Information Act.
The judge said on March 5 that he believed that AG Barr had “dubiously handled” the public release of the Mueller report.
Despite the transfer which included two paper copies and an electronic copy of the two records at issue, the court won’t be able to review them immediately because of the coronavirus crisis.
“Consistent with the [DOJ’s] Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review, the Court has received the unredacted version of the report regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 United States presidential election (the ‘Mueller Report’),” Walton said in a minute order Monday afternoon. “However, in light of the Chief Judge Howell’s March 16, 2020 Order Regarding Court Operations in Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Court’s review of the unredacted version of the Mueller Report is unable to occur until the Court resumes its normal operations on April 20, 2020, unless the Court’s normal operations are further suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mueller’s report, released last April, noted his investigation “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Earlier this month, Walton said “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.”
The judge added that it was “a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report.”
DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec pushed back a couple of days later, calling the court’s assertions “contrary to the facts.”
Kupec said the Justice Department “stands by” the work of the DOJ officials who made the redaction decisions and defended Barr’s “efforts to provide as much transparency as possible in connection with the Special Counsel’s confidential report.”