Washington, May 1 (IANS) US Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr in March objecting to his early description of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that appeared to clear President Donald Trump on possible obstruction of justice, the media reported.
According to the New York Times, the letter adds to the growing evidence of rift between them and is another sign of anger among Mueller’s investigators about Barr’s characterisation of their findings, which allowed Trump to wrongly claim he had been vindicated.
Mueller wrote that Barr in his four-page memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel’s findings, according to an excerpt of the letter, published by the Washington Post.
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the (justice) department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment on the matter.
Barr, scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the investigation, has said he disagrees with some of the legal reasoning in the Mueller report. Senior Democratic lawmakers have invited Mueller to testify in the coming weeks but have been unable to secure a date for his testimony.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr called Mueller upon receiving his letter and that the two had had a “cordial and professional conversation”.
“The special counsel emphasised that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the special counsel’s obstruction analysis,” Kupec said.
Kupec said Mueller and Barr then discussed “whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released”, but the Attorney General decided it would be counter-productive to release the report.
It was after their conversation, she noted, Barr released a second letter to Congress saying his first assessment was not intended to be a summary of Mueller’s report.
Senate Democrats have called on the Justice Department’s watchdog to independently investigate Barr’s handling of the Mueller report and “whether he has demonstrated sufficient impartiality” to continue overseeing 14 criminal matters related to the special counsel’s investigation.
According to a CNN analysis, the Mueller report lists at least 77 specific instances where Trump administration officials, family members, campaign staff, Republican backers and the President’s associates lied or made false assertions (sometimes unintentionally) to Congress, the public or authorities.