Attorney General William Barr interrupted partisan skirmishing on Capitol Hill over Democratic efforts to secure a full release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report with a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committee chairs promising the document, with redactions, would be in their hands, and apparently made public, by mid-April. Barr also indicated that the White House was waiving any right to review the document before release to determine possible claims of executive privilege over particular material.
There’s a lengthy section of the letter dealing with redactions (withholding of specific names, facts, or other information), summarized by Reuters more succinctly:
Barr said in his letter on Friday that certain information must be redacted before the report is release, including secret grand jury information, intelligence sources and methods and information that by law cannot be public or might infringe on privacy.
Depending on the scope of redactions, they could lead administration critics to claim that the “full release” promise is misleading.
Interestingly enough, Barr seemed to particularly dispute the description of the letter he sent to Congress a week ago was a Mueller report “summary”:
I am aware of some media reports and other public statements mischaracterizing my March 24, 2019 supplemental notification as a “summary” of the Special Counsel?s investigation and report …
As my letter made clear, my notification to Congress and the public provided, pending release of the report, a summary of its “principal conclusions” — that is, its bottom line. The Special Counsel’s report is nearly 400 pages long (exclusive of tables and appendices) and sets forth the Special Counsel’s findings, his analysis, and the reasons for his conclusions. Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own. I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.
Presumably this disclaimer is intended to head off complaints that there is important and relevant in the full report that Barr didn’t bother to tell anyone about in his initial letter, which has already shaped discussion of the report despite its brevity and murkiness about key findings.
But as he says, “[e]veryone will soon be able to read it on their own,” if he doesn’t redact it to ribbons.