The Corner

White House

Barr Has Done Nothing Wrong

The New York Times has a report out about Mueller investigators saying the underlying report is more troubling than Barr’s summary letter. I’m sure that is true—as Yuval pointed out the other day, these long reports gain their force through the narrative and the details. But there’s no suggestion that Barr distorted his summary of the principal findings and the Times report makes it clear that there was good reason for Barr to handle it the way he did:

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.

Mr. Barr was also wary of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with Mr. Barr’s thinking. They pointed to the decision by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.

The answer here is clearly to do the due diligence necessary to scrub anything out of the report that shouldn’t be made public and then release the rest. This is exactly what Attorney General Barr is doing.

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