On August 24, 2022, the DOJ released to CREW the secret memo then-Attorney General Bill Barr used to undercut the Mueller Report and not charge Donald Trump.

Read the memo 

The Department of Justice must turn over Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) advice the office gave to Attorney General William Barr about whether President Trump obstructed justice, according to a lawsuit filed by CREW.

During a press conference in April, Barr discussed his decision that Trump did not obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation and noted that he consulted the OLC before reaching his conclusion “that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request for those documents on April 18, 2019, as well as a request for expedition, due to strong public interest in the matter. CREW noted that the requested records would shed light on the legality of the Attorney General’s conclusions. Because Barr so directly and significantly placed his hand on the scales of justice in making and announcing his declination decision, the public deserves to know the full basis for that decision.

On April 19, 2019, the DOJ rejected CREW’s request for expedition, because it was “not a matter in which there exist possible questions about the government’s integrity that affect public confidence.”

On May 4, 2021, in response to CREW’s 2019 lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to turn over a memo cited by then-Attorney General Bill Barr as his reasoning not to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. The DOJ subsequently appealed the decision on May 24, 2021, and CREW filed a brief on May 28, 2021, hitting the DOJ for keeping the memo secret. Portions of the memo released in the case made clear that the memo had not been used to make any sort of legal decisions, and were thus not exempt under the deliberative process privilege.

On August 19, 2022, the appeals court upheld the district court, ruling that the DOJ had failed to justify its reliance on the deliberative process privilege for keeping the memo secret.

Lawsuit documents

  • May 28, 2019
  • February 14, 2020
  • Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement - August 12, 2020
  • August 12, 2020
  • August 12, 2020
  • August 12, 2020
  • Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement - September 2, 2020
  • Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Material Fact - September 2, 2020
  • May 4, 2021
  • May 24, 2021
  • May 28, 2021
  • Brief of Appellee - On Appeal From The United States District Court for the District of Columbia - August 30, 2021
  • August 19, 2022

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