After two years of intense secrecy surrounding their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial team have begun conspicuously leaking their dissatisfaction with Attorney General William Barr’s summary of their work to the press—twice, in the past 24 hours.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post report that some on the Mueller team think Barr’s four-page synopsis of their investigation dramatically undersold the degree to which they concluded President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice, with one person telling the Post: “It was much more acute than Barr suggested.” In his letter to Congress, Barr made clear that he had personally made the determination that the president had not obstructed justice.
While congressional Democrats prepare to subpoena the complete, un-redacted report from Barr’s Justice Department, some on Mueller’s team worry that the AG’s initial summary may have “hardened” the public’s opinion of their investigation, according to the Times—an assertion bolstered by the president and his allies repeatedly parroting Barr’s conclusion that the Mueller investigation had largely cleared Trump of any legal wrongdoing.
Just the fact that Barr took it upon himself to write his own summary of the report—which only lightly quoted from Mueller’s team itself—rather than rely on the actual report’s actual synopses appears to have angered some who worked on the investigation.
Speaking with the Post, one official “briefed on the matter” claimed that the 400-page report submitted to the AG’s office was written in such a way that “the front matter from each section could have been released immediately—or very quickly.”
“It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself,” the official added.
Although the investigation is now over, it’s noteworthy that investigators have now twice chosen to break their (nearly) unbroken streak of speaking to the press about their investigation at all. Robert Mueller himself, meanwhile, has yet to speak publicly about his investigation, and Barr’s conclusions thereof. But with the fight to release his full report heating up, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for him to come forward and let the rest of us know what he found.