A new version of Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections has just been made public in response to a BuzzFeed News lawsuit.
This new version of the Mueller report was released by the Department of Justice on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and a followup lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News and separately by the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC.org).
The new version helps to explain “why significant portions of the 448-page document were redacted before it was released to the public earlier this month,” write BuzzFeed News reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier.
The copy of Mueller’s report that Attorney General William Barr released earlier this month contained redactions that were labeled according to one of four categories: harm to ongoing matter, meaning investigations that are still ongoing; grand jury material, which is secret under federal rules and exempt from disclosure; classified information; and personal privacy.
Before the report was released, BuzzFeed News filed its public records request, as well as the related lawsuit, to compel the Department of Justice to explain any redactions in accordance with FOIA's nine exemptions. Each of those exemptions spell out the type of information the government can withhold and the harm that would result if it was disclosed.
Earlier this month, during a hearing in the case, US District Judge Reggie Walton said Barr had “created an environment that has caused a significant part of the American public to be concerned about whether there will be full transparency."
Walton, who made those comments before the report was publicly released, told the government attorney he may want to review an unredacted copy of the report to better understand the reasons for the redactions.
BuzzFeed News and EPIC will now have the opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of the redactions and argue before Walton that overwhelming public interest compels the disclosure of additional information in the report. At a hearing last week, Walton said he will still consider whether he should review an unredacted copy of the report but will wait until BuzzFeed News, EPIC and the government finish arguments over the redactions.