The US Department of Justice has been ordered to release a memo that former US Attorney General William Barr used to avoid prosecuting Donald Trump for obstruction of justice following an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson accused Mr Barr of being “disingenuous” about his assessment of Mr Mueller’s findings and found that the Justice Department’s obfuscations misled the public and Congress about the investigation
“The attorney general’s characterisation of what he’d hardly had time to skim, much less study closely, prompted an immediate reaction, as politicians and pundits took to their microphones and Twitter feeds to decry what they feared was an attempt to hide the ball,” Judge Jackson wrote in US District Court this week.
The opinion followed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
US Rep Ted Lieu, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, said that “history will not be kind” to the former attorney general.
The Justice Department argued that the memo is subject to client privilege and should not be made public, as it constitutes legal advice provided to Mr Barr about the former president.
Judge Jackson flatly rejected the argument, writing that not only was Mr Barr “being disingenuous then” but also that the department “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 Mueller team chickened out,” Mr Lieu said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Congress needs to see the full unredacted Mueller report.”
He also added that “Don McGahan still needs to testify,” referring to the former White House counsel who was allegedly ordered to fire Mr Mueller in 2017, according to the report.
The report was submitted in April 2019 and assessed a dozen potential instances of obstruction related to officials with the Trump campaign and their ties to the Russian government. The report “did not establish” that Mr Trump himself committed a crime, but it also “does not exonerate him.”
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