A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over a 2019 internal memo that then-Attorney General William P. Barr cited as the reason for not charging former President Trump with obstruction of justice.
In a biting decision, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave the Justice Department two weeks to release the memo, saying it should not be shielded from the public.
Judge Jackson, who was appointed by President Obama, also blasted the Justice Department for being “disingenuous” about its reasons for keeping the memo private.
Portions of the memo have been released to the public, but the Justice Department has bristled over releasing the full text, arguing it fell under exceptions to the public records law for attorney-client privilege and government decision-making.
Judge Jackson concluded those claims were unfounded and inconsistent with her review of the unredacted memo.
“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 attorney general to make a prosecution decision or that any such decision was on the table at the time,” she wrote in a 41-page opinion.
Mr. Barr said in 2019 that his decision to clear Mr. Trump of obstruction came in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers. The OLC advisory came in the memo.
Judge Jackson’s decision was in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the liberal watchdog group, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
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