To put this in perspective, Robert Mueller is a former FBI director and a skillful lawyer with a long track record of being “Mr Straight Arrow Lawman.” He would be last person on Earth to question his superiors, unless he felt his superiors were in the wrong.
He has spent the last two years leading a team investigating foreign influence on the 2016 presidential election and the president’s actions regarding that investigation. The team then submitted a 448-page to the attorney general, William Barr, which Barr then condensed into a four-page summary for public consumption. Quite surprisingly, Barr also allowed a redacted version of the Mueller report to be released to the public, and it has become clear the summary completely misinterprets the report.
During his testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr admitted he had not read the entire report before writing his summary, but Mueller perhaps did not know that when he wrote the following letter to Barr on March 27. I have highlighted Mueller’s key objection.
March 27, 2019
The Honorable William P. Barr
Attorney General of the United States
Department of Justice
Re: Report of the Special Counsel on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election and Obstruction of Justice (March 2019)
Dear Attorney General Barr:
I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions to remove any information that potentially could be protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); that concerned declination decisions; or that related to a charged case. We also had marked an additional two sentences for review and have now confirmed that these sentences can be released publicly.
Accordingly, the enclosed documents are in a form that can be released to the public consistent with legal requirements and Department policies. I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize their public release at this time.
As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the Department early in the afternoon of March 24, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this Office’s work and conclusions. The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. See Department of Justice, Press Release (May 17, 2017).
While we understand that the Department is reviewing the full report to determine what is appropriate for public release — a process that our Office is working with you to complete — that process need not delay release of the enclosed materials. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation. It would also accord with the standard for public release of notifications to Congress cited in your letter. See 28 C.F.R. § 609(c) (“the Attorney General may determine that public release” of congressional notifications “would be in the public interest”).
Robert S. Mueller, III
A shorter rendition would go something like this:
“Bill, I sent you parts of our report that I said were specifically intended for public release. You did not release them. What’s up with that? According to the law, you should do it right away. Now would be good. Also, your summary reads like you just read the title page and the table of contents. Or maybe an entirely different report. Maybe you could do your job a little better. Kthxbai — Bob.”