The decision reinforces criticism federal judges and others have voiced of Barr and his treatment of the end of the Müller investigation. Jackson and others have repeatedly challenged Barr’s motives for keeping documents secret or delaying their release, including Mueller’s findings and Barr’s reactions to the investigation.
“The agency’s editorial offices and incomplete statements obscure the true purpose of the memorandum, and the cut-out portions believe that it was the attorney general’s responsibility to make a law enforcement decision, or that such a decision was on the table at any time,” Jackson wrote in a 35 -side statement published on Tuesday.
“The fact that [Trump] Not being prosecuted was a given, “she added.
The judge’s opinion comes in a lawsuit in which the Washington government’s Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics transparency group is seeking access to DOJ documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
CREW and several other groups are still trying to bring new records from the Mueller investigation to the public through legal proceedings and other challenges. The case that Jackson decided this week deals with documents surrounding Barr’s decision to reject the charges against Trump.
The memo of the alleged legal reasoning prepared for Barr should be made public, Jackson decided. A draft legal analysis by the Office of Legal Counsel would remain secret, Jackson also decided.
“We requested these records and filed this lawsuit because there were serious doubts about the official history of Barr’s DOJ. While we do not yet know what the memo says, the court’s opinion gives us confidence that we were right to ask . ” Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the CREW, said Tuesday.
Behind the memo
The 9-page memo, which Jackson said should be released, was finalized by two senior Justice Department officials – Steven Engel of the Office of Legal Counsel and Ed O’Callaghan, a top advisor to the Assistant Attorney General – the same On the 24th day, Barr briefed Congress on Mueller’s findings on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and Trump’s attempts to obstruct the judiciary.
The Justice Department had argued in court that much of the content of Engels and O’Callaghan’s memo should be obscured, as it was a protected internal discussion of law and politics. A DOJ attorney, Paul Colborn, had told the court that the memo was intended to help Barr decide whether to prosecute Trump.
Engel and O’Callaghan’s memo recommended no prosecution, saying Mueller’s findings were inconclusive evidence.
Jackson read the document in question for himself in the case, she noted. The judge said the edited pages provide Barr with “strategic as opposed to legal advice”. By not mentioning this in court, Jackson wrote that the DOJ was pretending that the strategy discussion did not exist.
The way the Justice Department handled the dispute over public access to the document “was to obscure the true purpose of the memorandum,” Jackson added.
Not believable, says Jackson
Jackson’s strongly worded opinion, though mostly concerned with technical aspects of government confidentiality, comes close to accusing the Justice Department of a cover-up.
The judge wrote while senior DOJ officials were preparing the legal opinion that Barr would cover in order not to prosecute Trump, they also sent an email about a higher priority they had: to inform Congress, the president became relieved.
Jackson carefully checked how this decision came about, examining court testimony from department attorneys and internal emails between Barr’s top advisors.
“Affidavits by Justice Department Officials” [in court about the memo] are so inconsistent with the evidence on the file that they are not believable, “Jackson wrote.
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