A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over an internal memo related to the Mueller probe of then president Donald Trump. Bill Barr cited the memo as the basis for his decision to clear Trump of obstruction of justice in his first impeachment trial.
Barr said at the time that he’d come to his decision “in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and other Department lawyers” but did not publicize the memo.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain the memo.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the unreleased OLC memo that Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction actually “contradicts” his claim that the decision to charge the president was “under his purview” because the special counsel Robert Mueller did not “resolve the question of whether the evidence would support a prosecution.”
Barr announced the decision to clear Trump in a four-page letter to Congress in March 2019 summarizing Mueller’s findings in the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.
However, the OLC’s memo “calls into question the accuracy of Attorney General Barr’s March 24 representation to Congress,” and it “raises serious questions about how the Department of Justice could make this series of representations to a court,” the ruling said
Mueller did not cite the nature of, or lack of, evidence as a reason he did not come to a decision on obstruction. He did, however, cite the OLC’s 1973 memo saying that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.