The US Department of Justice has been ordered to hand over an unredacted version of the Mueller Report into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Robert Mueller’s investigation did not prove that Donald Trump’s campaign criminally conspired with Russia to influence the election result.
But the question of obstruction of justice was not settled and the redacted report, produced by former FBI director Mueller, cited 11 occasions on which Trump or his campaign officials engaged in potential obstruction of justice.
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Now a less heavily redacted version of the report could enter public hands.
What does the latest ruling say?
A ruling by federal judge Reggie Walton accuses the attorney general, William Barr, of misrepresenting the Mueller Report’s findings before handing it to Congress.
The judgment says that Barr misled the public about the contents of the unredacted report, in the knowledge that this would not be checked because the public did not have access to the 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 favour of President Trump, despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” says the judgment, Politico reports.
MSNBC’s justice analyst Matthew Miller said the statement was “just not the type of thing you read from federal judges about the attorney general. The fact he felt the need to go this far shows some real concern about the rot inside DOJ [Department of Justice].”
The court ruling says that the Justice Department must hand over the full, unredacted report by 30 March, so a judge can decide which further sections can be released publicly.
Judge Walton, who was appointed by George W. Bush, wrote, in his legal opinion: “These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candour specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility.”
What is in the redacted report?
The report redacts four main segments of the report, says NPR.
Material from grand jury proceedings is secret under federal rules, and portions of the report were redacted on that basis. But some of that redacting may have been improper, according to Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court.
The “DOJ’s assertion that identifying individuals who did not testify before the grand jury as part of the Mueller investigation would reveal ‘a matter occurring before the grand jury’ is without merit and rejected,” Howell wrote, according to The Hill.
Material relating to the work of US intelligence agencies was also redacted, as officials were concerned that sources of intelligence and the methods used to gain it could compromise the work of America’s spies.
Information that related to other cases that were ongoing at the time was also scrubbed from the report, as was derogatory information uncovered about individuals who were not accused of a crime.
The image below from Vox shows just how much of the report was redacted.
Vox found that 7.25% of the report’s contents had been scrubbed out, and the most redacted sections were on Russia’s hacking and election interference. In the section on Russian hacking and dumping operations, 23% of the report was redacted.
A total of 4% of the section examining links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign team was redacted.
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