The Justice Department Friday evening clapped back at a federal judge who a day earlier questioned whether Attorney General William P. Barr was honest with the American public about ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the judge’s comments were “contrary to the facts.”
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington ordered the Justice Department to provide him the full, unredacted Mueller report so he can independently verify if the Justice Department’s redactions were proper.
He questioned whether Mr. Barr was intent “to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller report — a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller report.”
Judge Walton, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, said he could not “reconcile” Mr. Barr’s representations of the Mueller report with the special counsel’s conclusions.
Ms. Kupec said the judge’s comments were out of bounds because Mr. Barr did not play a role in either the original redactions or the department’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request for the unredacted report.
The judge’s comments came in response to a lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit pro-civil liberties organization, which had submitted FOIA requests for the full report.
Ms. Kupec said there was no reason to question the department’s response to the FOIA requests.
“In response to FOIA requests, the entire report was then reviewed by career attorneys, including different career attorneys with expertise in FOIA cases—a process in which the Attorney General played no role,” Ms. Kupec said. “There is no basis to question the work or good faith of any of these career Department lawyers.”
“The Department stands by their work, as well as the Attorney General’s statements and efforts to provide as much transparency as possible in connection with the Special Counsel’s confidential report,” she continued.
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