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Justice Department Clarifies Redactions To Mueller Report

The US government pushed back on a lawsuit by BuzzFeed News that seeks the Mueller report in its entirety: “The Department of Justice told a federal court judge that it cannot disclose any redacted parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report without harming ongoing national security investigations and other sensitive matters. BuzzFeed News and the advocacy group the Electronic Privacy Information Center are suing the government for the full report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including the passages of the report that were blacked out when Attorney General William Barr released it to the public on April 18. (In addition, BuzzFeed News filed separate lawsuits for other documents from the special counsel’s office.)

In response to those lawsuits, a 47-page declaration, submitted by Justice Department attorney Vanessa Brinkman, sheds new light about details hidden behind the redactions. For instance, the government has refused to identify some of the Facebook groups used by Russian officials to push propaganda during the campaign. If the government released the names of the groups, the new declaration argued, it would unfairly out unsuspecting Americans who joined the groups and were tricked by Russia’s effort. Brinkman also wrote that in a handful of cases, the Justice Department had previously cited the wrong reasons for redactions in Mueller’s original report. Those passages remain blacked out, but the exemptions supporting them have changed. The government also told the court that parts of the document must remain secret to protect ongoing criminal and national security investigations and internal discussions by Mueller’s team. Those discussions offer “detailed explanations of the basis for the decisions made by the Special Counsel to pursue indictments in some instances, and not to pursue charges in others.”..

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