Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the “principal conclusions” of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s two-year investigation, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.
“At the time the letter was sent on March 27, Barr had announced that Mueller had not found a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” the post reported. “Barr also said Mueller had not reached a conclusion about whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice, but Barr reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support such a charge.”
Mueller wrote the private letter to the Justice Department just days after Barr’s announcement.
In the letter, Mueller expressed his dissatisfaction with the public discussion of his work that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.
“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
According to the Post, the letter requested “that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and made some initial suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department officials.”
The Post adds: “Justice Department officials said Tuesday they were taken aback by the tone of Mueller’s letter, and it came as a surprise to them that he had such concerns. Until they received the letter, they believed Mueller was in agreement with them on the process of reviewing the report and redacting certain types of information, a process that took several weeks. Barr has testified to Congress previously that Mueller declined the opportunity to review his four-page letter to lawmakers that distilled the essence of the special counsel’s findings.”
In his letter, Mueller wrote that Barr’s redaction process “need not delay release of the enclosed materials. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.”
According to law enforcement officials, Barr and Mueller spoke by phone for about 15 minutes the day after Barr received Mueller’s letter.
According to Justice Department officials, Mueller told Barr during the call he “was concerned that news coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work.”
Barr is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.