With mounting public criticism of the method with which Attorney General William Barr informed the public about the contents of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his investigation into President Trump and the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Barr sent a new letter to Congress today in an attempt to explain how, when, and how much of the report they will get to see.
Barr begins his letter by explaining the redaction process which he revealed is being conducted with the assistance of Special Counsel Mueller. He enumerates the four categories of information that will be removed from the version of the report that will be available for the public to read:
1. Material covered by Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that can’t be released by law.
2. Material that the intelligence community determines could compromise their sources and intelligence gathering methods.
3. Material that could compromise other ongoing investigations, including those that Mueller referred to other federal prosecutors.
4. Information that would “unduly infringe on personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
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After laying out the categories that they intend to comb through the report to redact, the Attorney General indulges in a gratuitous semantic argument to address the differences between what he calls a “supplemental notification” and what the media has been classifying as a “four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s investigation and report.”
Claiming that the letter that he previously sent to Congress was never meant and did not proport to be “an exhaustive recounting” of Mueller’s probe and report, Barr — in a bit of verbal manipulation — says that it was merely a “summary of its ‘principle conclusions’ — that is, its bottom line.”
He goes on to reveal that the full Mueller report is nearly 400 pages long, not including “tables and appendices.” Having given his estimate of a mid-April delivery for the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report, it will be interesting to see how many pages remain after the redacted material is removed.
Attorney General Barr completes his letter by confirming the dates he will be available to speak in front of the Congressional Judiciary Committees that have requested his testimony. We can expect him to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1st and to its House counterpart the next day.
With the redacted report available in the next few weeks, we can expect President Trump and his supporters to continue mischaracterizing the report as a complete vindication of his actions, despite the fact that even Barr’s “supplemental notification” clearly states that the report “does not exonerate him.”
With Trump whipping up his supporters into believing the entire Mueller investigation was a deep state-inspired coup attempt, the full details of the report — minus the redactions which could be substantial — will be even more polarizing if the information it contains contradicts the president’s attempts at a vindication that he doesn’t deserve.
You can read the full letter from Attorney General William Barr to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler in the tweet below from NBC News.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 29, 2019
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.