A federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush laid into Attorney General William Barr’s “lack of candor” in a court opinion on Thursday, accusing the nation’s chief law enforcement official of producing a “distorted” summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, in an opinion issued in the course of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed, questioned whether Barr intended to create a “one-sided narrative” that would benefit President Donald Trump.
“The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr’s intent was 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,” Walton wrote.
Barr released a summary of the Mueller report before its public release that mischaracterized the report’s findings in a manner that helped Trump. Mueller complained to Barr that his summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s full report, but the report shaped public opinion on the findings of the Mueller investigation for weeks.
Walton also criticized Barr for holding a press conference ahead of the report’s release last April, saying he could not “reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings” of 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.
Walton said that Barr’s credibility issues led him to the conclusion that he needed to review the unredacted report himself to provide “independent verification in light of Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report.”
In March, a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush questioned whether Barr had intended to create a “one-sided narrative” about the Mueller report to benefit Trump.
Read the full opinion below:
This is a developing story and will be updated.