March 5, 2020, 6:24 PM CST
By Pete Williams


A federal judge on Thursday strongly criticized Attorney General William Barr's disclosure of the Mueller report last year, calling early statements about special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusions "misleading."

In an order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking access to the unredacted report, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Barr's action caused him "to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump."

Barr: Russians 'did not have the cooperation' of Trump, his campaignAPRIL 18, 201902:45


Barr's "lack of candor," Walton wrote in a 23-page ruling in Washington, calls into question the credibility of Barr and the Justice Department in making redactions to the report. For that reason, Walton ordered government lawyers to give him the complete report so he can evaluate whether the material was properly blacked out.


Barr has previously defended his handling of the report, including his decision to make its main conclusions public even before the full document was released. Walton said Barr "can be commended for his effort to expeditiously release a summary."

But Walton said he wondered whether Barr's intention "was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller report."

A spokeswoman said the Justice Department would have no comment on the ruling.