Trump Declined to Assert Executive Privilege After Reviewing Mueller Report

April 18, 2019 Updated: April 18, 2019

President Donald Trump declined to assert executive privilege to redact any portion of the special counsel report by Robert Mueller “in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people,” Attorney General William Barr said on April 18.

The Justice Department provided White House attorneys with a copy of the report in accordance with the law, Barr said. The decision to assert executive privilege to black out portions of the document rested with the president and Trump decided to not request any redactions, according to Barr.

“Because the White House voluntarily cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, significant portions of the report contain material over which the president could have asserted privilege. And he would have been well within his rights to do so,” Barr said.

The White House counsel requested a redacted copy of the document in order to advise the president on the issue of executive privilege, according to the attorney general.

“Following that review, the president confirmed that, in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people, he would not assert privilege over the special counsel’s report,” Barr said, adding that “no material has been redacted based on executive privilege.”

“There were no redactions done by anyone outside this group,” Barr said, referring to the Justice Department, the special counsel’s office, and the intelligence community. “No one outside this group proposed any redactions. And no one outside this department has seen the non-redacted report.”

Over the course of 22 months, Mueller investigated allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller concluded that there was no evidence of collusion by Trump, anyone on his campaign, or any U.S. citizen.

Mueller didn’t make a prosecutorial decision about the president’s alleged actions amounting to obstruction of justice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the arguments Mueller presented and concluded there is not enough evidence to file charges.

Barr also revealed that Mueller specifically noted in the report that the president has noncorrupt motives for publicly criticizing the investigation.

“As the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,” Barr said.

“Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

The special counsel’s report was delivered to members of Congress starting at 11 a.m. and is available to the public on the Justice Department’s website, Barr said.

The redactions to the report were limited to four categories Barr previously outlined: grand jury material shielded from disclosure by federal law, intelligence sources and methods the disclosure of which could be harmful to national security, the identities of people who were not ultimately charged with a crime, and the interests of peripheral third parties who were not ultimately prosecuted.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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