The Justice Department, in a statement issued late Friday afternoon, pushed back on a judge’s Thursday assertions that Attorney General Bill Barr made “misleading” public statements about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the lead up to its release.
Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton’s assertions were “contrary to the facts,” but did not elaborate on what Walton actually got wrong in his accounting of the “inconsistencies” between what Mueller’s report said and how Barr described it before its release.
Instead, the bulk of the statement focused on the Walton’s determination that he needed to privately review the report’s redacted material, given how Barr handled the rollout. Walton issued the ruling in a Freedom of Information Act case, where a journalist and non-profit organization are seeking unredacted version of the report.
Kupec said the redaction decisions in the original publicly released report were made in consultation with Department attorneys, Mueller’s team, prosecutors from U.S. attorneys office and members of the Intelligence Community.
DOJ statement on yesterdayâ€™s district court order in a FOIA case related to the Special Counselâ€™s confidential report. pic.twitter.com/7C1bd7Rwir
â€” KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) March 6, 2020
“In response to FOIA requests, the entire report was then reviewed by career attorneys, including different career attorneys with expertise in FOIA cases â€” a process in which the Attorney General played no role,” 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.”