Federal Judge Says Attorney General Can’t Be Trusted

Aaron Schwartz/CNP/ZUMA

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You may recall that when the Mueller Report was finally finished and handed over to the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr decided to immediately release his own four-page summary of the findings. Later, when the full report was released, we discovered that Barr’s summary was less than totally accurate. Barr, it turned out, had put a pretty big thumb on the scale in favor of his boss, Donald Trump.

But that wasn’t the end. Even the full report was full of redactions, which Barr insisted were only those required by law or national security interests. But was Barr to be believed? A federal judge today ruled otherwise:

The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller 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 favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.

These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility and in turn, the Department’s representation that “all of the information redacted from the version of the [Mueller] Report released by [] Attorney General [Barr]” is protected from disclosure by its claimed FOIA exemptions. In the Court’s view, Attorney General Barr’s representation that the Mueller Report would be “subject only to those redactions required by law or by compelling law enforcement, national security, or personal privacy interests” cannot be credited without the Court’s independent verification in light of Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report.

In other words: you lied about the Mueller Report, so why shouldn’t I believe that you’re lying about the redactions too?

How often does a conservative federal judge call a conservative attorney general a liar whose word can’t be trusted? Not very often. But Barr is a special case.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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