Congress has given Attorney General William Barr a hard deadline on handing over the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller: no later than April 2, and without redactions so congressional investigators can see all the relevant evidence.
Barr’s counter-offer? Sometime in mid-April, and with lots of redactions.
Barr sent a letter on Friday to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, informing them that the report is being redacted so that it can be released to both Congress and the public.
Barr didn’t say anything in his letter about releasing a version to Congress that has fewer redactions, or none. That suggests that he intends to hide just as much of the Mueller report from Congress as he does from the public.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was not impressed.
“As I informed the Attorney General earlier this week, Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2,” Nadler said in a statement. “That deadline still stands.”
Almost no one has actually seen the full, nearly 400-page report from Mueller on Russian election interference and Trump’s potential obstruction of justice.
All we’ve seen is a four-page summary from Barr — who was vocally opposed to the Mueller investigation long before Trump chose him to lead the Department of Justice — that was released less than 48 hours after Barr received a copy of the Mueller’s full report.
Barr’s rushed summary said that Mueller could not establish that the Trump team conspired with the Russian government (which is a pretty high bar for “collusion”). Barr’s summary also noted that while Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” Trump on obstruction of justice crimes, Barr and the DOJ had already decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to accuse Trump of a crime — again, less than 48 hours after they received the full text of Mueller’s 400-page report.
Barr has been criticized for what looks likely to be a biased summary of Mueller’s report, and that criticism seems to be bothering him.
In fact, he spent an entire paragraph of his Friday letter to Congress whining about how his summary shouldn’t have been called a “summary” at all, because it was not “an exhaustive recounting” of Mueller’s report and only summarized its “principal conclusions.”
Barr was apparently fine with doing a rush job on Mueller in order to make Trump look good. But now that it’s time to be held accountable to Congress and the public, he’s dragging his feet — and, by the looks of it, trying to hide as much as he can.
Four types of information in the Mueller report are subject to redaction, Barr said in his latest letter to Congress: material from Mueller’s grand jury, information that could compromise intelligence sources and methods, information related to ongoing investigations, and “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
The line about “third parties” is especially alarming because it’s so vague. Who counts as a “peripheral third party,” and what “reputational interests” of theirs could be used as an excuse to keep Congress and the public in the dark?
For instance, is Barr redacting important information about Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump Jr. just because it made them look bad? We don’t know.
Nadler is also calling for Barr to immediately testify before Congress “to explain the rationale behind his letter, his rapid decision that the evidence developed was insufficient to establish an obstruction of justice offense, and his continued refusal to provide us with the full report.”
Nadler’s statement also made clear that Congress needs to see everything — not just the text of Mueller’s report, but also the grand jury evidence that informed it. While that information can’t be publicly disclosed, Nadler urged Barr to work with the House Judiciary Committee to get it using a court order.
“There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees,” Nadler said.
“Again, Congress must see the full report.”
Published with permission of The American Independent.