WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the release of a legal memorandum the Trump-era Justice Department prepared for then-Attorney General William Barr before he announced his conclusion that President Donald Trump had not obstructed justice during the Russia investigation.
The Justice Department had refused to give the March 24, 2019, memorandum to a government transparency group that requested it under the Freedom of Information Act, saying the document represented the private advice of lawyers and was produced before any formal decision had been made and was therefore exempt from disclosure under public records law.
But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the Justice Department had obscured “the true purpose of the memorandum” when it withheld the document.
She said the memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel contained “strategic, as opposed to legal advice” and that both the writers and the recipients already had a shared understanding as to what the prosecutorial decision would be. She said this meant it was not — as the department had maintained — “predecisional,”
“In other words, the review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the president should be charged with …read more