Attorney General William Barr showed a “lack of candor” in his public descriptions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2020 election, a federal judge said Thursday in a strikingly pointed shot at the country’s top law enforcement officer.
US District Court Judge Reggie Walton said that Barr had “distorted the findings” of the April 2019 report in a press conference and a letter to lawmakers. Walton’s critique echoes that of Democrats in Congress and elsewhere, who have have consistently accused Trump’s attorney general of lying about the conclusions in Mueller’s report and in other public comments in order to protect Trump. But Walton’s ruling stands out in coming from an officer of the court.
The judge’s scorching opinion came in an ongoing lawsuit from BuzzFeed against the Justice Department seeking the release of an unredacted copy of Mueller’s report. This week Walton ordered the department to provide him an unredacted version to review. And he suggested that Barr’s public comments did not align with the report’s findings, calling into doubt the department’s claims about the need for parts of the report to remain secret. Walton wrote:
The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court 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.
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…[Barr]’ is protected from disclosure by its claimed FOIA exemptions.
Read the full ruling here: