As Many Already Knew, There’s More Than One Big Lie

It’s time to Break It Down!

Slowly, surely, inexorably, the wall of obfuscation, deception, and flat out lies will tumble. It may take much longer than it should…but it will happen. Late last year, the 2020 Voter Fraud machination became familiarly known as “The Big Lie.” This post is a friendly reminder, it’s not the only one.

Yesterday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the Justice Department’s attempts to keep secret a departmental opinion to not charge 45 with obstruction at the end of the Mueller investigation. In doing so, she called the administration’s lawyers “disingenuous.”

The Justice Department had argued before the court that the largely redacted March 2019 memo was legal reasoning that aided AG Barr make a decision about 45. However, Judge Jackson said she believed Barr and his advisors had already decided not to charge 45 with a crime before he got the written advice. Instead, the memo was more strategic planning than legal reasoning. As a result, it can be made public.

Jackson’s decision adds to other criticism that federal judges and others have leveled at Barr for the way he handled the end of the Mueller investigation. There have been persistent questions about Barr’s motives for keeping documents related to the investigation – including Mueller’s findings and Barr’s reactions to them – secret, or for delaying their release.

In a 35-page opinion, Judge Jackson noted, “The agency’s redactions and incomplete explanations obfuscate the true purpose of the memorandum, and the excised portions belie the notion that it fell to the AG to make a prosecution decision or that any such decision was on the table at any time.” 

She went on to add, “The fact that [45] would not be prosecuted was a given.”

The government transparency group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has sought access to DOJ documents in this case through the Freedom of Information Act. The judge’s opinion is a part of that case.

CREW is one of several groups still seeking the release of new records from Mueller’s investigation. The specific case Jackson is hearing this week deals with documents around Barr’s decision not to charge 45. This matter is still acutely important. From the outset, 45 supporters have defaulted to bolster the assertion that Trump not being charged as evidence on its face, that he was innocent. At the very least, these new developments poke holes in that argument. As Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for CREW said, “We requested these records and filed this lawsuit due to serious doubts about the official story coming out of Barr’s DOJ. While we do not yet know what is in the memo, the Courts opinion gives us confidence that we were right to have questions.”

The 9-page memo was crafted by two top political leaders in the Justice department – Steve Engel of the Office of Legal Counsel and Ed O’Callaghan, a top adviser in the Deputy AG’s Office – the same day Barr briefed Congress about Mueller’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice. The DOJ had argued that much of the memo should stay blacked out, because it was protected internal discussions about policy and the law. Another lawyer, Paul Colborn, had told the court the memo was meant to help Barr decide whether to prosecute 45. Engel and O’Callaghan’s memo recommended no prosecution, positing that Mueller’s findings weren’t evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Jackson, who has read the document disagreed. She concluded that the document was strategy, and not citing that in court, equated to pretending the strategy discussion didn’t exist.

The Judge issued a strongly worded opinion that, comes close to accusing the DOJ of a cover up. She noted that while officials at DOJ prepared the legal opinion that gave Barr cover not to prosecute 45, they were simultaneously emailing about a higher priority to inform Congress the President was exonerated. Mueller thoroughly  investigated several episodes of 45 trying to impede or end the inquiry into his campaign’s ties to Russia. However, he left the indictment decision to the AG and his political appointees. Still, after closing shop, Mueller later told to Congress that an ex-president could be prosecuted for obstruction after he left the office, yet Barr had already reached a definitive conclusion in 45’s case.

Judge Jackson took a close look at how that decision came about, including reviewing court statements from department lawyers, and internal emails between Barr’s top advisers. She noted, DOJ officials’ “affidavits [in court about the memo] are so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence.”

It is worth noting that another federal judge had previously slammed Barr in a public records case following the Mueller investigation, observing the attorney had a “lack of candor” that was helpful to 45 politically when the AG told Congress and announced to the public what Mueller had found, without releasing the nearly 500-page report. In conclusion, As Many Already Knew, There’s More Than One Big Lie!”

I’m done; holla back!

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