The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY KATIE BENNER

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr’s brevity in de­scrib­ing Mueller re­port is de­fended by the Jus­tice De­part­ment.


The Jus­tice De­part­ment de­fended At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr’s han­dling of the spe­cial coun­sel re­port Thurs­day, say­ing that it had to be scrubbed of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, amid rev­e­la­tions that some mem­bers of the of­fice have said he failed to ad­e­quately por­tray their find­ings and the ex­tent to which they could dam­age Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“Given the ex­tra­or­di­nary pub­lic in­ter­est in the mat­ter, the at­tor­ney gen­eral de­cided to re­lease the re­port’s bot­tom-line find­ings and his con­clu­sions im­me­di­ately – with­out at­tempt­ing to sum­ma­rize the re­port – with the un­der­stand­ing that the re­port it­self would be re­leased after the redac­tion process,” a Jus­tice De­part­ment spokes­woman, Kerri Ku­pec, said in a state­ment.

At is­sue is a four-page letter that Barr wrote to law­mak­ers March 24 out­lin­ing the main find­ings of the nearly two-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller. Quot­ing spar­ingly from the nearly 400-page re­port de­liv­ered to him two days ear­lier, the at­tor­ney gen­eral re­vealed that Mueller had de­clined to de­cide whether the pres­i­dent il­le­gally ob­structed the in­quiry and that Barr him­self had stepped in to con­clude that Trump did not com­mit an ob­struc­tion of­fense.

Some of Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors have told as­so­ciates in re­cent days that Barr could have re­leased more of their own work, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and oth­ers fa­mil­iar with their frus­tra­tions told The New York Times for an ar­ti­cle pub­lished Wed­nes­day.

Trump at­tacked the ar­ti­cle, falsely as­sert­ing on Twit­ter that Times re­porters re­lied on “no le­git­i­mate sources,” a long­stand­ing tac­tic of his to try to dis­miss news re­ports that por­tray him neg­a­tively.

Barr has told law­mak­ers that his letter was an up­date of his progress in re­view­ing the re­port and that the doc­u­ment was not in­tended to ful­fill a re­quire­ment un­der Jus­tice De­part­ment reg­u­la­tions that he send a sum­mary to Congress at the end of any spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Though Ku­pec said Barr was not try­ing to sum­ma­rize the re­port, she was re­fer­ring only to the reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ment for a sum­mary.

Ku­pec also said that the re­port and its re­lease were sub­ject to the reg­u­la­tions, which stip­u­late that Mueller pre­pare a con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ment of his find­ings in­tended only for the at­tor­ney gen­eral. She also said that sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion had to be blacked out first, not­ing that “ev­ery page of the ‘con­fi­den­tial re­port' “was marked with a warn­ing that it may con­tain se­cret grand jury tes­ti­mony. Barr and other law en­force­ment of­fi­cials are also re­view­ing the doc­u­ment for clas­si­fied ma­te­rial, in­for­ma­tion about con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and deroga­tory de­tails about third par­ties not di­rectly re­lated to the in­quiry.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral has said he is aim­ing to send to law­mak­ers a redacted ver­sion of the re­port by mid-April.

The spe­cial coun­sel’s re­port in­cluded sum­maries of the ma­jor find­ings, and some team mem­bers be­lieved Barr should have in­cluded more of their ma­te­rial in his March 24 letter, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. But the at­tor­ney gen­eral “does not be­lieve the re­port should be re­leased in a ‘serial or piece­meal fash­ion,’” Ku­pec said, cit­ing a letter that Barr wrote to law­mak­ers Fri­day.

Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials have also said they de­ter­mined that the sum­maries con­tained sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion that needed to be re­viewed be­fore they were re­leased.

Democrats have de­manded full ac­cess to the re­port. The House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee voted Wed­nes­day to let its chair­man, Rep. Jer­rold Nadler of New York, use a sub­poena to com­pel Barr to turn over a com­plete copy of the Mueller re­port.

Nadler said Thurs­day that the re­ports about frus­tra­tion among mem­bers of the spe­cial coun­sel team would not al­ter his plan to give Barr a bit more time to hand over the re­port vol­un­tar­ily be­fore is­su­ing a sub­poena.

But given the frus­tra­tions ex­pressed by some of Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors, Nadler asked Barr in a letter Thurs­day to turn over all com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice and other Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials about the re­port, in­clud­ing dis­cus­sions about the dis­clo­sure of the re­port to Congress or the pub­lic and about Barr’s March 24 letter.

Nadler also said that Barr had un­der­mined his own de­sire to re­lease the re­port all at once when he out­lined the prin­ci­pal con­clu­sions “in a fash­ion that ap­pears to min­i­mize the im­pli­ca­tions of the re­port as to the pres­i­dent.”


Peo­ple gather for a rally at Park Square in Pitts­field, Mas­sachusetts, one of hun­dreds across the coun­try on Thurs­day that called on U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr to make the find­ings of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller's in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­lic.

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