D.C. Circuit orders release of Barr memo on Mueller Russia report

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A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a secret Justice Department memo discussing whether President Donald Trump hindered the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The panel’s unanimous decision on Friday mirrors that of a lower-ranking judge, Amy Berman Jackson, who last year accused the Justice Department of dishonesty in its justification for hiding the memo.

Department officials argued that the document was protected because it involved internal deliberations about whether to indict Trump for obstructing Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. . But the judges agreed with Jackson that the file clearly showed that Mueller had already concluded that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.

Instead, the panel ruled that the March 2019 memorandum covered what then-Solicitor General William P. Barr would say to Congress prior to the release of the Mueller report on evidence of obstruction.

Judge Criticizes Barr, Justice Dept. for ‘dishonest’ handling of secret Trump obstruction memo

“Admittedly, an indictment was not dismissed and the agency was unable to present an alternative reason that could justify the claim of the privilege,” the judges wrote.

The court said that if the government had accurately described the motivations behind the memo to Jackson, the ruling could have been different. But “any idea that the memorandum related to whether or not to say something to the public remained completely undisputed — and even unstated” until the appeal.

Barr eventually told lawmakers that since Mueller had declined to come to a conclusion, he and his deputy concluded themselves that the evidence was lacking. When the full report was released weeks later, it said there was “substantial evidence” that Trump was obstructing justice.

The memo was written by two senior Justice Department officials who argued that the evidence gathered by Mueller’s team did not reach the level of a prosecutable case, even if Trump was not president. An edited version was released last year, but left the actual analysis of that question under seal.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the nonprofit that sued the release of the document, celebrated the verdict on Twitter.

“We’re going to get the classified memo Barr used to undermine the Mueller report and claim it wasn’t enough to find that Trump obstructed justice,” the ethics watchdog wrote. “And we’re going to make it public.”

The DOJ could appeal to the full US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and the US Supreme Court. A DOJ spokeswoman declined to comment.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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