Biden's DOJ appeals order to release Russia memo in full which cleared Trump of obstruction - but does agree to make a portion public

 The Biden administration said Monday that it would appeal a judge's order directing it to release legal memo explaining why Attorney General Bill Barr didn't choose to prosecute President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice by allegedly thwarting Robert Muller's Russia investigation. 

But it also agreed to make a brief portion of the document public, which shows that two senior Justice Department leaders advised Barr that, in their view, Mueller's evidence could not support an obstruction conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. 

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier this month ordered Biden's DOJ to release the entire March 2019 memo as part of a public records lawsuit from a Washington-based advocacy organization. 


She said the department, under Attorney General William Barr, had misstated the purpose of the document in arguing that it was legally entitled to withhold it from the group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In a motion filed late Monday, the deadline for deciding whether it would comply with the judge's decision or appeal it, the Justice Department said that it continued to believe even that the full document should be exempt from disclosure.

It appears Biden's DOJ took the decision to avoid setting a new precedent where more sensitive internal documents would have to be released, Politico reported. 

Presidents and administrations of both parties have constantly fought to keep these documents secret. 

The Biden administration said Monday that it would appeal a judge's order directing it to release in its entirety a legal memo on whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. But it also agreed to make a brief portion of the document public. trump is pictured in NYC Monday

The Biden administration said Monday that it would appeal a judge's order directing it to release in its entirety a legal memo on whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. But it also agreed to make a brief portion of the document public. trump is pictured in NYC Monday

Though the department agreed to release one section of the document, the lawyers asked Jackson to put her order on hold to give a federal appeals court a chance to review the ruling.

At issue is a March 24, 2019 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that was prepared for Barr to evaluate whether evidence collected in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation could support an obstruction of justice prosecution of the president. Barr has said he looked to that opinion in determining that Trump did not illegally obstruct the Russia probe.

The Justice Department turned over other documents to CREW as part of the group's lawsuit, but declined to give it the OLC memo. 

Government lawyers said they were entitled under public records law to withhold the memo because it reflected internal deliberations among lawyers before any formal decision had been reached.


U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier this month ordered the Justice Department to release the entire March 2019 memo as part of a public records lawsuit from a Washington-based advocacy organization. She said the department, under Attorney General William Barr, had misstated the purpose of the document in arguing that it was legally entitled to withhold it from the group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Barr is pictured above in July last year

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier this month ordered the Justice Department to release the entire March 2019 memo as part of a public records lawsuit from a Washington-based advocacy organization. She said the department, under Attorney General William Barr, had misstated the purpose of the document in arguing that it was legally entitled to withhold it from the group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Barr is pictured above in July last year

But Jackson said those arguments were disingenuous because the memo was prepared for Barr at the same time as a separate Justice Department letter informing Congress and the public that Barr and senior department leaders had concluded that Trump had not obstructed justice.

She said the OLC memo could therefore not have been 'predecisional' in nature if the Justice Department had already decided that there would be no obstruction case.

In its motion Monday, Justice Department lawyers said the government never meant to mislead the court but acknowledged that some of its language could have been clearer.

President Joe Biden talks to employees at FEMA headquarters on Monday in Washington

President Joe Biden talks to employees at FEMA headquarters on Monday in Washington

The department said the decision before the attorney general was not whether to prosecute Trump since the indictment of a sitting president is precluded by longstanding Justice Department policy. Rather, the question that the memo set out to address was whether the facts gathered by Mueller could warrant a criminal case. That question, the government says, was a genuine decision that had to be made.

'The Attorney General´s determination on that point - and on what, if anything, to say to the public about that question - undoubtedly qualifies as a decision, even if it could not have resulted in an actual prosecution of the sitting President,' Justice Department lawyers wrote.

'There was no legal bar to determining that the evidence did or did not establish commission of a crime, a determination the Attorney General made and announced,' they added.

In a letter to AG Merrick Garland on May 14, Senate Democrats urged him not to appeal the court's order to 'help rebuild the nation's trust in independence after four years of turmoil'.

The group of Senators lead by Majority Whip Dick Durbin wrote: 'DOJ’s actions in this case, and in another recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case seeking information about President Trump’s activities, have raised doubts about DOJ’s candor when characterizing potential evidence of President Trump’s misconduct to courts. 

'To be clear, these misrepresentations preceded your confirmation as Attorney General, but the Department you now lead bears responsibility for redressing them.

'In that light, and in order to help rebuild the nation’s trust in DOJ’s independence after four years of turmoil, we urge DOJ not to appeal D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s May 3 decision to order the release of this OLC memo.'

Biden's DOJ appeals order to release Russia memo in full which cleared Trump of obstruction - but does agree to make a portion public Biden's DOJ appeals order to release Russia memo in full which cleared Trump of obstruction - but does agree to make a portion public Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:18 Rating: 5

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