Politics

Robert Mueller criticized Attorney General William Barr's summary of the special counsel report on Trump

Key Points
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised concerns about Attorney General William Barr's summary of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election because he felt it left the impression that President Donald Trump was cleared of any possible obstruction of justice, according to multiple reports.
  • Mueller's critical letter was obtained by The New York Times and Washington Post, which first reported the existence of it late Tuesday. That news was confirmed by NBC News.
  • Barr said in the summary released last month that the probe did not conclude that Trump or anyone in his campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia in its influence campaign.
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Robert Mueller expressed frustration with AG Barr's Russia investigation summary

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly raised criticisms about Attorney General William Barr's summary of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election because he felt it left the impression that President Donald Trump was cleared of any possible obstruction of justice, according to multiple reports.

Mueller's critical letter was obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post, which first reported the existence of it late Tuesday. That news was confirmed by NBC News.

Mueller wrote a letter in late March to Barr complaining about the four-page summary, which was sent to Congress on March 24 and later released to the public. Mueller felt that the summary from the attorney general "did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions."

Mueller suggested to Barr that the attorney general release the summary sections from Mueller's original reports, according to NBC News. The House Judiciary Committee's Democratic members released the letter in full Wednesday morning.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, in a statement, confirmed that Mueller wrote to Barr after the summary was released to express frustration over "the lack of context and the resulting media coverage," particularly about conclusions on obstruction of justice.

Barr said in the summary released last month that the probe did not conclude that Trump or anyone in his campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia in its influence campaign.

According to Mueller's letter to Barr, "There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department [of Justice] appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."

Here's the full comment from the Justice Department's Kupec on Mueller's complaints about Barr's summary:

"After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller's letter, he called him to discuss it. In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General's March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel's obstruction analysis. They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released. However, the Attorney General ultimately determined that it would not be productive to release the report in piecemeal fashion. The Attorney General and the Special Counsel agreed to get the full report out with necessary redactions as expeditiously as possible. The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel's principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1st and 2nd."