Politics

Judge keeps second part of DOJ memo on Mueller report about Trump secret, for now

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Key Points
  • A federal judge declined to order the Department of Justice to release the second part of a memo about the Mueller report written to former Attorney General William Barr.
  • The memo argued that there was not enough evidence to prosecute then-President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.
  • Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she wanted to allow the DOJ time to follow through on an appeal of her decision ordering the release of the entire memo by the department's Office of Legal Counsel.
US Attorney General William Barr participates in a news conference to provide an update on the investigation of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on the 32nd anniversary of the attack, at the US Department of Justice in Washington, D.C, December 21, 2020.
Michael Reynolds | Pool | Reuters

A federal judge declined Monday to order the Department of Justice to release the second part of a memo about the Mueller report written to former Attorney General William Barr, which argued that there was not enough evidence to prosecute then-President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in a ruling that she wanted to allow the DOJ time to follow through on its appeal of her earlier decision ordering the release of the entire memo by the department's Office of Legal Counsel.

"While there may be some additional public benefit in revealing the contents of Section II, the Court will not deny the Department the opportunity to challenge its ruling in order to advance that interest at this time," Jackson wrote in her new ruling, issued in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Last month, the DOJ released part of the memo, which was written in March 2019, but kept its second section secret.

The advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is suing to force the entire memo to be disclosed.

The memo by the Office of Legal Counsel was written after then-special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report on an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had coordinated with Russians in their effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed a probe of Russia's interference.

The DOJ as a rule will not file criminal charges against a sitting president.

But the OLC's memo concluded that even without that prohibition, there was not enough evidence found by Mueller to warrant criminally charging Trump.

Jackson last month blasted Barr, saying the former attorney general had been "disingenuous" in his public comment on Mueller's report.

Jackson also brushed aside the DOJ's claim that the memo was used to advise Barr on the question of whether Trump should face criminal charges. The judge said the document itself reveals that Barr had already made up his mind on that question at the time it was submitted to him.

"The review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the President should be charged with obstruction of justice; the fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given," Jackson wrote.