WASHINGTON — A federal judge issued an order on Thursday for the Justice Department to release to the court an unredacted version of the Mueller Report, which contains the findings of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
D.C. District Judge Reggie Walton also sharply criticized Attorney General William Barr, accusing him of making “misleading public statements” in advance of the release of the partially redacted version of the full report in April of 2019.
Walton said the court had “grave concerns about the objectivity of the process,” noting the timing of Barr’s public statements and discrepancies with Mueller’s findings.
“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” the entirety of the redacted information in the report should be exempt from disclosure.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment on the ruling.
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Ahead of the release of the redacted version of the report last year, Barr wrote a summary to Congress of the investigation, for which he was criticized along with statements he made as he released the report. Mueller also differed with the attorney general about Barr’s characterization of the special counsel’s principal findings.
The George W. Bush-appointed judge wrote on Thursday that Barr’s representation of the Mueller report had “inconsistencies” with the report itself, and that the court was “troubled” by the haste with which Barr released his initial letter before releasing the redacted report.
The inconsistencies, Walton said, caused him to “seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”
Walton determined that the court should conduct a private review of the Mueller Report to validate the Department of Justice’s redactions and decide whether any information should be made public. The order is part of a consolidated Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.