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Federal judge questions Barr’s credibility and orders review of Mueller report redactions

Federal judge questions Barr’s credibility and orders review of Mueller report redactions. By Amanda Robert, Legal Affairs Writer. MARCH 6, 2020, 10:30 AM CST https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/federal-judge-questions-barrs-credibility-and-orders-review-of-full-mueller-report

‘A federal judge said on Thursday he had “grave concerns about the objectivity” of Attorney General William Barr and his handling of the Muller report’s release last year. In his opinion, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he would conduct his own independent review of the unredacted version of the report to assess if the Department of Justice properly withheld portions from the public under the Freedom of Information Act. “True to the oath that the undersigned took upon becoming a federal judge, and the need for the American public to have faith in the judicial process, considering the record in this case, the Court must conclude that the actions of Attorney General Barr and his representations about the Mueller Report preclude the Court’s acceptance of the validity of the Department’s redactions without its independent verification,” the judge wrote.’

ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION ) CENTER, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant. Civil Action No. 19-810 (RBW) and JASON LEOPOLD & BUZZFEED, INC., Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants. Civil Action No. 19-957 (RBW) http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2020/images/03/05/uenrosj.pdf

‘These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility and in turn, the Department’s representation that “all of the information redacted from the version of the [Mueller] Report released by [ ] Attorney General [Barr]” is protected from disclosure by its claimed FOIA exemptions. Brinkmann Decl. ¶ 11 (emphasis added). In the Court’s view, Attorney General 20 Barr’s representation that the Mueller Report would be “subject only to those redactions required by law or by compelling law enforcement, national security, or personal privacy interests” cannot be credited without the Court’s independent verification in light of Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report, id., Ex. 7 (April 18, 2019 Letter) at 3, and 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. And, despite the Department’s representation that it “review[ed] the full unredacted [Mueller] Report for disclosure pursuant to the FOIA,” Brinkmann Decl. ¶ 11, the Court cannot ignore that the Department’s withholdings under the FOIA exemptions mirror the redactions made pursuant to Attorney General Barr’s guidance, which cause the Court to question whether the redactions are self-serving and were made to support, or at the very least to not undermine, Attorney General Barr’s public statements and whether the Department engaged in post-hoc rationalization to justify Attorney General Barr’s positions.’ P19-20

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

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