DOJ Showdown: What Did the Memo To Bill Barr Really Say?

In case you haven’t heard, there has been a legal showdown between the Department of Justice and a Freedom of Information Act request. The DOJ doesn’t want to release a memo that they sent to then Attorney General Bill Barr about the Mueller Report and whether to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice.

An Obama appointed judge has ruled that the DOJ has to release the entire memo, but the DOJ is fighting that court order. You may be wondering why the DOJ is fighting the court on this issue, and Janita Kan may have details for us:

The DOJ has since partially appealed U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision but also released the first page and one section of the disputed legal memo. The department said it would continue its efforts to keep the remainder of the document redacted.

The newly unredacted part of the memo shows how top officials at the department’s Office of Legal Counsel made the argument in favor of Barr reaching a public determination on whether to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice. The official had determined that then-special counsel Robert Muller had not reached the conclusion in his report and recommended that Barr take on the endeavor.

“Although the Special Counsel recognized the unfairness of levying an accusation against the President without bringing criminal charges, the Report’s failure to take a position on the matters described therein might be read to imply such an accusation if the confidential report were released to the public,” part of section one of the memo stated.

In 2019, Barr announced that Mueller did not provide sufficient evidence to support an obstruction of justice case.

So, the portion of the memo that has been released advised Barr to take a stand as to whether to prosecute Trump to prevent Mueller’s report from being interpreted as an accusation against Trump even though Mueller didn’t bring criminal charges. Unfortunately, some on the left have interpreted Mueller’s report exactly this way, though their feeling justified in accusing Trump of obstruction of justice when Mueller didn’t press charges seems like their anti-Trump bias getting the better of their rationality.

Will we see the rest of the memo, and will that clear up these questions? We don’t know, yet.

What we do know is that neither Mueller nor Barr brought obstruction of justice charges against Trump, and that should probably tell us all that we need to know about the lack of basis for any charges like that.

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