District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson criticized former Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice in a ruling ordering the release of a memo related to the Mueller report.
Berman Jackson wrote in her partially-redacted ruling that the federal government must release a memo analyzing whether or not the Justice Department should have charged former President Donald Trump with a crime in connection with the Mueller probe. In doing so, she claimed that Barr was “disingenuous” in his characterization of the Mueller report’s findings.
“Not only was the Attorney General being disingenuous then, but DOJ has been disingenuous to this Court.”
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 4, 2021
Barr released a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election before the report was redacted and released to the public.
In the summary, Barr noted the principal finding of the report, that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” even as “there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.” (RELATED: Justice Department Delivers Mueller Conclusions To Congress—No Collusion)
Mueller later objected to Barr’s characterization, saying that it did not “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of the special counsel’s investigation. Mueller did not, however, say that he believed Barr’s summary was inaccurate, but that the media and congressional Democrats misinterpreted the announcement. (RELATED: Rod Rosenstein Defends Attorney General’s Handling Of Mueller Report)
The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding that the Justice Department release “all documents pertaining to the views OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] provided Attorney General Barr on whether the evidence developed by Special Counsel Mueller is sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Although the Justice Department released 33 documents pursuant to the FOIA request, it withheld 28.
In directing the Justice Department to release one of the 28 withheld documents, Berman Jackson wrote that the “DOJ has been disingenuous to this Court with respect to the existence of a decision-making process that should be shielded by the deliberative process privilege.”
The deliberative process privilege refers to a rule that allows the federal government to shield documents that consist of “advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations” towards decision making.
“The review of the document in camera reveals that there was no decision actually being made as to whether the then-President should be prosecuted,” Berman Jackson wrote.
The Department of Justice will have two weeks to either release the document in question or appeal Berman Jackson’s order.