A federal judge ordered the DOJ to release a memo that Bill Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction of justice, saying 'it is time for the public to see' it
Former Attorney General William Barr. Drew Angerer / Getty Images
A federal judge ordered the DOJ to file an internal memo related to the Mueller probe.
Bill Barr cited the memo as the basis for his decision to free Trump from obstruction of justice.
"It is time for the public to see this too," said the judge in Tuesday's ruling.
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A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to forward an internal memo cited by then-Attorney General Bill Barr as a justification for then-President Donald Trump's release of obstruction of justice.
Barr said at the time that he had come to his decision "in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other lawyers in the department" but had not made the OLC's memo public. In response, the Washington Citizens Responsibility and Ethics Monitoring Group (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain the memo.
In Tuesday's ruling, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the unpublished OLC memo Barr used to clear Trump of obstacles "contradicts" his claim that the decision to indict the president was "in." his area of responsibility "lies because special adviser Robert Mueller did not" resolve the question of whether the evidence would support a prosecution. "
Barr announced the decision to clarify Trump in March 2019 in a four-page letter to Congress summarizing Mueller's findings on the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.
"The letter alleged that the Special Adviser had" failed, in one way or another, to conclude whether the conduct under investigation was an obstacle, "and gave the Attorney General's own opinion that" the evidence arose during the special report " The attorney's investigation is insufficient to determine that the president has committed a criminal offense against the judiciary, "Jackson wrote.
The OLC's memo, however, "questions the accuracy of Attorney General Barr's representation before Congress on March 24," and "raises serious questions about how the Justice Department might bring this range of representations to justice," the ruling said .
Jackson pointed out that Mueller himself criticized Barr's handling of the publication of the report and his description of the Special Envoy's conclusions.
On April 18, 2019, Barr "appeared before Congress to deliver the report," Jackson wrote. "He alleged that he and the Assistant Attorney General had come to the conclusion that he announced in the March 24 letter 'in consultation with the Legal Department and other lawyers for the department'."
"What is still open to debate today is a memorandum to the Attorney General dated March 24, 2019 specifically addressing the subject of the letter sent to Congress," she added, referring to the OLC memo.
She continued, "It's time for the public to see that too."
Mueller's results in the obstruction study were discussed at length when his final report was published in April 2019. He set out 11 possible cases of Trump obstruction but declined to give a "traditional prosecutor's judgment".
Barr told reporters that Mueller's decision was not influenced by the Justice Department's longstanding policy that a seated president could not be charged. He said that Mueller's determination - or lack of it - was indeed sparked by the indecision of the evidence.
In his report, however, Müller did not cite the nature or lack of evidence as a reason why he did not reach a decision on the disability. However, he cited the 1973 OLC memo that a seated president cannot be charged with a crime.
In addition, the Special Representative's team said: "If, after a thorough investigation into the facts that the President clearly did not commit an obstruction of justice, we would have confidence, we would explain." The team continued, "However, based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we cannot make this judgment."
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