Yeomans: Barr the Protector
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2019 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, AFJ Senior Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that Attorney General William Barr is doing his best to carry out the duty he was clearly hired to perform: to protect President Trump from legal jeopardy. But he adds that Barr’s plans to release a highly-redacted version of the Mueller report will force Congress’s hand, making legal action to obtain the full report inevitable. Writes Yeomans:
“Attorney General Barr repeated in his testimony before House and Senate appropriators this week that he intends to redact grand jury material from the version of the Mueller report that he sends to Congress. He also made clear that he does not intend to seek court permission to release grand jury testimony to Congress or the public. That raises the interesting question of why the Department of Justice was demanding documents and hauling witnesses before the grand jury to testify regarding the president, if DOJ knew 1) that its policy prevented it from bringing criminal charges against the president and 2) that it would not share the grand jury testimony with Congress, which has the power to impeach. Was the special counsel off on a lark, abusing the power of the grand jury in a hollow exercise? Of course not. Barr’s position is untenable. Congress must receive the unredacted Mueller report, including grand jury material.”
Moreover, Yeomans writes, a House subpoena to obtain the material should succeed based on the law: “While Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure imposes secrecy on grand jury proceedings, it contains exceptions that should allow release in this matter… That exception allows release of material ‘preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.’” Courts, Yeomans writes, have determined that impeachment is a judicial proceeding — and although House Democrats have not initiated formal impeachment proceedings, they can claim that they are doing work “preliminary” to such a proceeding. After all, Yeomans notes, “Congress needs the information to know whether it should launch a formal impeachment inquiry.”
Meanwhile Barr is digging further into his role as a Trump lackey, Yeomans says: “In a final effort to convince Trump that he is completely in the fold (and that he should not be trusted by Congress), Barr testified to his concern that the FBI had spied on Trump’s campaign. He plans to look into this Trump conspiracy theory. Trump wanted a protector as his Attorney General. He chose wisely.”
Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-464-7367.