Court: Release Some of Mueller Report 12/01 06:21
A federal appeals court on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to
disclose certain redacted passages from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia
investigation report that relate to individuals who were investigated by
prosecutors but not ultimately charged.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday directed the Justice
Department to disclose certain redacted passages from special counsel Robert
Mueller's Russia investigation report that relate to individuals who were
investigated by prosecutors but not ultimately charged.
The ruling came in a public records complaint from the news organization
BuzzFeed, which sued for an unredacted version of Mueller's report examining
Russian election interference and possible ties to Donald Trump's 2016
Though the three-judge panel said a lower court judge was correct in ruling
that certain portions of the report should remain redacted, it said in its
opinion that other passages that BuzzFeed fought to see can be disclosed
because they involve facts available elsewhere in the report and "do not
contain new facts or stigmatizing material."
In particular, the appeals court said the Justice Department must disclose
redacted information about the Mueller team's decision to not prosecute an
unnamed person -- whom BuzzFeed contends is likely Donald Trump Jr., Trump's
oldest son -- for potential campaign finance violations.
The Mueller report detailed how prosecutors looking at potential campaign
finance crimes investigated a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Trump Jr.
expected to received pejorative information about his father's Democratic
opponent, Hillary Clinton, from a Russian lawyer. Ultimately, prosecutors
decided against any charges related to that meeting.
"The redacted passages contain no new facts; they contain no new information
or descriptions of conduct that have not been made public elsewhere in this
very Report. The privacy interests, then, are not robust, as no additional
reputational or stigmatizing harm can result from the disclosure of the
information contained therein," said the opinion from Judge Karen LeCraft
Other requested information can remain redacted, she said, because it
contains "additional facts about individuals that are not disclosed or even
intimated elsewhere in the Report."
In a statement, BuzzFeed News Editor in Chief Mark Schoofs said it
"enthusiastically applauds and welcomes today's unanimous ruling from three
federal judges -- the result of months of dedicated, relentless legal work and
investigative journalism to ensure that the workings of our government are
transparent and readily accessible to the public."
Mueller's 448-page report identified extensive contacts between Russians and
Trump associates but ultimately found insufficient evidence to charge a
criminal conspiracy to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Though investigators found multiple instances in which Trump sought to seize
control of the Russia investigation, they did not reach a conclusion as to
whether he had illegally obstructed justice.