In response to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post on a newly leaked letter from Robert Mueller to Attorney General William Barr complaing that Barr’s summary of the special counsel’s findings “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the report, Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro accused Barr of deliberately misleading the American people to cover up Donald Trump’s alleged crimes and called on him to resign or else face impeachment.
“Attorney General Barr willfully misled the American people to cover up attempted crimes by Donald Trump,” wrote Castro, linking to the Post’s report. “He should resign his position or face an impeachment inquiry immediately.”
But Castro apparently did not read the full report that triggered his indignant call for Barr’s removal. As the Post revealed, Mueller was expressly upset about how the media was interpreting Barr’s 4-page summary of his key findings, which, of course, could not “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the over 400-page final report. According to the report Castro himself tweeted out, Mueller specifically said he did not find that Barr had been “inaccurate or misleading” about his findings.
“A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials,” the Post reports. “In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials.”
“When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said,” the Post reports. “In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a ‘summary,’ saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said.”
The Post’s report also provides the following quote about that follow-up phone call from a Justice Department spokeswoman, underscoring that “the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading”: “After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it. In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis.”
Additionally, Justice Department officials told the Post that they were frustrated that Mueller failed to provide complete recommended redactions along with the final report so the release of the full report might be expedited.
Below is the key passage from Mueller’s newly reported March 27 letter to Barr expressing concern about the “new public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation”:
The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25. There is new public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. See Department of Justice, Press Release (May 17, 2017).
While we understand that the Department is reviewing the full report to determine what is appropriate for public release — a process that our Office is working with you to complete — that process need not delay release of the enclosed materials. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation. It would also accord with the standard for public release of notifications to Congress cited in your letter. See 28 C.F.R. 609(c) (“the Attorney General may determine that public release” of congressional notifications “would be in the public interest.”).