Attorney General William Barr has said the report submitted by special counsel Robert Mueller will be redacted to conceal four categories of government secrets:
GRAND JURY MATERIAL
Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits prosecutors from revealing almost everything involving the activity of grand juries, which meet behind closed doors to avoid tipping off suspects under investigation and to protect the reputations of people who avoid charges. Mueller’s investigators used grand-jury proceedings to issue more than 2,800 subpoenas and execute nearly 500 search warrants. Judges can authorize the unsealing of grand-jury records, as happened in the investigations that led to the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
The feds can legally withhold information that could damage national security if disclosed to the public, including by revealing the sources and methods that are used to obtain intelligence. Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election may have relied on information from top-secret sources. Members of Congress frequently receive classified documents and briefings, but the Justice Department turned down a request from Republican lawmakers last year for information about Mueller’s investigation, on grounds that it could put lives and risk and expose the identity of an FBI informant who is an American citizen.
Mueller referred several matters to at least three US attorneys, most notably leading to the conviction of President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for his role in the hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Other matters that have been made public include the investigations of Trump’s inaugural committee and the secret Turkish lobbying that involved Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Last week, Barr told a House Appropriations subcommittee that “we want to make sure that none of the information in the report would impinge upon either the ability of the prosecutors to prosecute the cases or the fairness to the defendants.”
“PERIPHERAL THIRD PARTIES”
The feds have a longstanding policy against releasing disparaging information about someone who hasn’t been indicted, on the grounds that people who haven’t been charged can’t defend themselves in court. Last year, the DOJ’s inspector general blasted former FBI Director James Comey for publicly saying in 2016 that Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information when she was secretary of state, while at the same time announcing that he wouldn’t recommend charges over her use of a private e-mail server. Barr has said that the public version of Mueller’s report won’t identify any “peripheral third parties,” but added, “I’m talking about people in private life, not public-office holders.”
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