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Politics A federal judge ordered the DOJ to release a memo that Bill Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction of justice

21:00  04 may  2021
21:00  04 may  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

Redacted Justice Department memo on Trump and obstruction raises fresh questions about Barr's handling of Mueller probe

  Redacted Justice Department memo on Trump and obstruction raises fresh questions about Barr's handling of Mueller probe A federal judge's ruling this week ordering the release of a redacted Justice Department memo recommending that former President Donald Trump should not be charged with obstruction of justice could place new scrutiny on then-Attorney General William Barr's handling of the Mueller investigation. © Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images Attorney General William Barr participates in a press conference at the Department of Justice along with DOJ officials on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Former Attorney General William Barr. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images Former Attorney General William Barr. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over an internal memo related to the Mueller probe.
  • Bill Barr cited the memo as the basis for his decision to clear Trump of obstruction of justice.
  • "It is time for the public to see that [the memo], too," the judge said in Tuesday's ruling.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over an internal memo that then-Attorney General Bill Barr cited as justification for clearing then-President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.

DOJ ordered to release memo advising Barr on not pursuing Trump obstruction charges

  DOJ ordered to release memo advising Barr on not pursuing Trump obstruction charges A federal judge ordered the release of an Office of Legal Counsel memo supporting former Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to pursue obstruction of justice against former President Donald Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. © Provided by Washington Examiner Judge Amy Berman Jackson released a 41-page opinion on Monday rejecting arguments from the Trump DOJ that the advisory memo from March 2019 had been part of the deliberative process and subject to attorney-client privilege and thus not subject to public release following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Citizens f

Barr said at the time that he'd come to his decision "in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers" but did not publicize the OLC's memo.

He announced the decision in a four-page letter to Congress summarizing the special counsel Robert Mueller's findings in the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election. Barr's letter was widely criticized as an attempt to spin Mueller's findings before the report became public, as US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted in her ruling Tuesday.

"The letter asserted that the Special Counsel 'did not draw a conclusion - one way or the other - as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,' and it went on to announce the Attorney General's own opinion that 'the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,'" Jackson wrote.

Barr memo saying not to charge Trump must be released, judge says

  Barr memo saying not to charge Trump must be released, judge says A federal judge this week rejected the Justice Department's attempts to keep secret a departmental opinion to not charge former President Donald Trump with obstruction at the end of the Mueller investigation, calling the administration's lawyers "disingenuous."A federal judge this week rejected the Justice Department's attempts to keep secret a departmental opinion to not charge former President Donald Trump with obstruction at the end of the Mueller investigation, calling the administration's lawyers "disingenuous.

"The President then declared himself to have been fully exonerated. The Attorney General's characterization 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."

Jackson went on to note that Mueller himself criticized Barr's handling of the public release of the report and his description of the special counsel's conclusions.

On April 18, 2019, Barr "appeared before Congress to deliver the report," Jackson wrote. "He asserted that he and the Deputy Attorney General reached the conclusion he had announced in the March 24 letter 'in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers.'"

"What remains at issue today is a memorandum to the Attorney General dated March 24, 2019, that specifically addresses the subject matter of the letter transmitted to Congress," she added, referring to the OLC memo.

Ted Lieu Says 'History Will Not Be Kind' to Bill Barr Following Mueller Report Memo Order

  Ted Lieu Says 'History Will Not Be Kind' to Bill Barr Following Mueller Report Memo Order Lieu responded to a federal judge's order to release a memo about the ex-attorney general's decision not to charge Donald Trump over 2016 election interference.Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the Justice Department to turn over a memo from March 2019 that Barr had cited as the reason for not charging Trump following the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller into claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Jackson continued: "It is time for the public to see that, too."

The ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Mueller's findings in the obstruction investigation were widely discussed when his final report was released in April 2019.

He laid out 11 potential instances of obstruction by Trump, but the special counsel declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment."

Barr told reporters Mueller's decision was not influenced by longstanding Justice Department guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be indicted. He said that in fact, Mueller's determination - or lack thereof - was prompted by the inconclusive nature of the evidence.

But in his report, Mueller did not cite the nature of, or lack of, evidence as a reason he did not come to a decision on obstruction. He did, however, cite the OLC's 1973 memo saying that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.

Moreover, the special counsel's team said (emphasis ours) that "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state." The team continued: "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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