DOJ Must Release 15 Unredacted Pages Of Mueller Report, Judge Rules

( The Justice Department has until November 2 to release additional portions of the Mueller report that it incorrectly redacted the first time around.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the DOJ improperly redacted “significant portions” of the report. The agency violated federal law when it redacted portions of the report, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled. Part of the report that was redacted include discussions about which individuals should be charged with crimes.

Attorneys for the DOJ cited a law called “Exemption 5” as the justification for redacting those portions of the report. The law is also known as deliberative process privilege.

Walton, though, wrote lawyers “failed to show that it appropriately withheld information” under the Exemption 5 standard.

Despite that portion of Walton’s ruling, he also said the DOJ acted properly in much of its other redactions of the Mueller report. The judge said they had the right to do so under separate exemptions in the law that are there to protect integrity of investigations that are ongoing, as well as procedures and techniques of law enforcement, and the privacy of individuals.

By November 2 at the latest, the day before the General Election, the Justice Department must not release certain pages it blacked out from volume one of the Mueller report. There will be at least 15 pages that were originally redacted of the full 448-page report that will be released to the public.

Those pages apparently include not just discussions about which individuals to charge with crimes, but also discussions regarding the 2016 hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee. It’s further speculated that the interest of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign in the hacked emails could be contained in those previously-redacted pages.

The case in question was brought forward by BuzzFeed News as well as the Electronic Privacy Information Center. It was a legal challenge that lasted 18 months. BuzzFeed News and EPIC were seeking to see the entire Mueller report unredacted. They were citing standards under the Freedom of Information Act.

Back in March, Walton ruled that the Justice Department had to turn over unredacted versions of the Mueller report so he could review whether what they were censoring was appropriate. The judge also forced lawyers from the DOJ to defend their rationale to him in closed-door hearings.

His 23-page ruling in March said the public characterization of the Mueller report by Attorney General William Barr “failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings.”

The judge wondered whether Barr’s “intent was to create a one-sided narrative” about the Mueller report, and also whether Barr undertook a “calculated attempt to influence public disclosure” in favor of Trump, “despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

This is the second victory EPIC and BuzzFeed News have had regarding the Mueller report. In June, a judge ruled that the DOJ had to release parts of the report that detailed how the president was warned about the release of the hacked DNC emails by WikiLeaks — something he denied in November 2018 in a written testimony he gave to the investigating team.