Mueller Report: Federal judge criticises William Barr's 'distorted and misleading' summary of Russia probe

Judge Reggie Walton demands to see redacted parts of inquiry 

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Thursday 05 March 2020 19:20
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William Barr eviscerated by Democratic senator Marie Hirono at Mueller report hearing

A federal judge has delivered a scathing criticism of William Barr’s handling of the Mueller Report, terming his summary of the Russia probe “distorted and misleading”.

When the special prosecutor last spring completed his two-year probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, the first findings were released in a summary form by the recently appointed attorney general.

Mr Barr, who previously served as the nation’s top law official in the administration of George HW Bush, said Mr Mueller had found no collusion with Russia, and also determined there was no evident the president had obstructed justice. Mr Barr said he had decided no charges should be brought against Mr Trump.

At the time, Mr Mueller, a former head of the FBI wrote to Mr Barr, saying he disagreed with his summation of his work and pointed out while he found insufficient evidence to charge Mr Trump with collusion or obstruction “it also does not exonerate him”.

Eventually, a redacted version of the report was made public.

Now, a federal judge has attacked Mr Barr over his handling of the report.

Judge Reggie Walton asked if Mr Barr’s actions were a “calculated attempt” to help Mr Trump and suggested the attorney general had a “lack of candour” with the public and Congress.

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“The court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by attorney general Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report,” Mr Walton wrote on Thursday, according to CNN.

The judge ordered the department of justice to privately show him the portions of the report that were censored in the public version so he independently verify the justifications.

The ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking a full-text version of the report.

“It would be disingenuous for the court to conclude that the redactions of the Mueller Report pursuant to the FOIA are not tainted by Attorney General Barr’s actions and representations,” wrote the judge.

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