Friday, February 15, 2019

Jack Goldsmith On "Barr’s Remarkable Non-Commitments About the Mueller Report"

Jack Goldsmith--

Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003

is on record that he expects Bill Barr to be a "great" Attorney General. For that reason his comments from Wednesday, 2/13/19, on Barr's confirmation hearing remarks as they relate to the release of all or part of the forthcoming Mueller report are well worth reading. Among other things you'll learn lots about what the special counsel regulations require in terms of a final report. But of most interest are his remarks that take off from John Dowd's stated expectation that there may well not be any report--or not one that is released to Congress or the public. And Dowd specifically noted that any Mueller report would have to go through an AG Barr.

Briefly, Goldsmith states:

“I don’t think there’ll be a report,” President Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, recently told ABC News. “I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than ‘We’re done.’” Referring to a possible report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Dowd suggested Mueller won’t release a detailed public accounting of the results of the investigation because he has nothing on Trump. 
Another reason there might not be a public report—or, at least, not much of one—is because William Barr, who will likely be attorney general by the end of the week, might not release one. It is Attorney General Barr’s decision, not Mueller’s, whether to give any information in Mueller’s report to Congress and the public. As we show in this post, Barr in his confirmation hearings committed himself to being transparent, consistent with a strict adherence to applicable laws and regulations. And the applicable laws and regulations require Barr to report very little to Congress or the public.  
Barr was then asked repeatedly whether he would share Mueller’s report with Congress. He said over and over again that he would do as much as he could, consistent with pertinent law. Here are the main examples, which we quote at length in order to emphasize just how careful Barr was not to commit to anything beyond what the law requires:
Barr was remarkably—and, in our view, understandably—noncommittal in these statements. He reminded the senators of what the regulations say and noted that he would follow them. ...
We don’t think there is anything untoward in Barr’s responses to the senators. ... We simply wish to emphasize that Barr did not commit to making much if any of Mueller’s work available to Congress or the public, and that the regulations Barr wrapped himself in require him to report very little.

As I've said previously, Barr intends to be the Attorney General in full.

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