Congress and the American people continue to wait, many with substantial skepticism, for Attorney General William Barr to deliver his redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as The Inquirer reports. Barr has estimated that the redacted report would be available by mid-April, if not sooner. He is reportedly working with his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, and Mueller himself to produce the edited document. In a letter to Congress, Barr has detailed what they should expect to see redacted within the report, spelling out four broad categories for redaction:
- Grand jury material;
- Information related to U.S. intelligence-gathering;
- Information that could compromise ongoing investigations; and
- Details in violation of the privacy of individuals who are secondary to the investigation.
Each of the above categories carry with it significant opportunities for Barr to use his discretion to redact material. The grand jury section in particular would give Barr wide latitude to shield information related to grand jury proceedings, as federal laws are aggressive in protecting the integrity and privacy of the grand jury.
“Prosecutors generally take a broad view of what constitutes grand jury information in order to avoid inadvertently disclosing it, but here there’s a strong counterbalancing interest in ensuring that everything that can come out does come out,” said John Bies, who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
How Barr would handle the eventual release of the Mueller report has been a contentious issue hotly debated since even prior to his nomination for attorney general. During Barr’s confirmation, he insisted that he would not allow political motivations to influence his actions, but also made no clear commitment that he would make the report’s findings public, stoking concerns that he might conceal information damaging to the president.
Those fears, to many, have been realized as the abbreviated report submitted so far by Barr has been characterized as incomplete and potentially misleading.
Members of Mueller’s team have told associates that Attorney General William Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry https://t.co/QicgQvAREK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 3, 2019
As attorney general, Barr is alone in control of the dissemination of the report, unless legislative or judicial action intervenes to say otherwise.
Lawmakers will have their first opportunity to question Barr directly on the topic later this week when he appears for a routine budget hearing.
“There’s a lot of pressure all pointing in the direction of doing a robust release,” Bies said. “We are very hopeful the attorney general will do the right thing here and make everything public that can lawfully be made public.”