DOJ partially discloses memo Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction in Russia investigation

The Department of Justice intends to appeal an order requiring the government to disclose a memo that was cited as a reason not to pursue obstruction of justice charges against former President Donald Trump, it said Monday.

The memo written by the department’s Office of Legal Counsel was cited by then-Attorney General Bill Barr as one reason why he did not intend to pursue obstruction charges against Trump after receiving the Mueller report.

A portion — a page and a half — of the 2019 memo was released in a subsequent filing Monday night, but the Justice Department is appealing a judge’s order on the rest of it.

It says the memo was written to evaluate whether the facts in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report would support initiating prosecution of the president, without regard to any constitutional barrier — and concludes they would not.

The memo says although the Mueller report declined to reach a conclusion, the Justice Department should.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, sought the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Justice Department said it fell under an exception for deliberative materials, but the judge said the memo treated Barr’s decisions as a foregone conclusion and was not that kind of legal advice.

Mueller investigated interference in the 2016 presidential election and other matters.

Barr declared that the evidence described in Mueller’s report did not support a charge of obstruction, even leaving aside the policy against indicting a sitting president.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the memo should be released. She ruled that it did not fit the exemption for “deliberative” documents.

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