April 5, 2019
We suspected it all along, but now, some of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have asserted that Attorney General William Barr’s four-page letter on the conclusions of the Russia investigation failed to adequately lay out the most damaging findings of the report, The New York Times posted on April 3.
At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Barr and the Special Counsel’s Office—is who will shape the American electorate’s opinion of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history,k the Times said.
Some members of Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.
Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report, but needs time to scrub out confidential information. However, House Democrats say that nothing needs to be redacted before they review the report.
What’s more, the special counsel’s investigators have told associates that they already had prepared multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Barr should have included more of their material in his letter of March 24 laying out their main conclusions.
However, the special counsel’s office never asked Barr to release the summaries, a person familiar with the investigation told the news outlet. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information—including classified material, grand-jury testimony, and information related to ongoing federal investigations.
Barr also was wary, the Times reported, of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with the AG’s thinking. They pointed to the much-derided decision by James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.
Indeed, according to officials familiar with the attorney general’s thinking, he and his aides limited the details they revealed because they were worried about wading into political territory. Mr. Barr and his advisers expressed concern that if they included derogatory information about Mr. Trump while clearing him, they would face a storm of criticism the one that. Comey endured after the Clinton investigation.
Although it still is not clear what findings the special counsel’s investigators viewed as troubling for the president, Barr has suggested that Mueller may have found evidence of malfeasance in investigating possible obstruction of justice. “
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to let its chairman use a subpoena to try to compel Barr to hand over a full copy of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), clear on Wednesday that he did not trust Barr’s characterization of what Mueller’s team had found.
Republicans, who have embraced Barr’s letter clearing Mr. Trump, have accused the Democrats of trying to prolong the cloud over his presidency and urged them to move on, the Times said.
Research contact: @nytimes