DOJ releases second redacted version of Mueller report over FOIA lawsuits

The Department of Justice on Monday released a second redacted version of the Mueller report, but the document doesn’t appear to make public new details about the special counsel’s investigation and findings.

This redacted version of the report was released in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed by the privacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold.

Leopold noted on Twitter that while the lengthy report itself doesn’t seem to provide new public information, it does shed more light on why certain information was withheld. 

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While the initial version of the Mueller report released last month labeled redactions in categories such as “harm to an ongoing matter” and “grand jury information,” redactions in this version of the document are aligned with certain FOIA regulations.

Leopold also tweeted out a letter the Justice Department sent him that explains the redactions made to the report under FOIA.

The letter points to FOIA exemptions pertaining to national security, grand jury proceedings and ongoing law enforcement actions. It also cites exemptions that would reveal law enforcement tactics as well as information that could violate individuals’ right to privacy and right to a fair trial or other legal processes. 

Attorneys for EPIC and Leopold said in court last week that they intended to challenge each redaction made under the FOIA law.

Justice Department attorneys argued that both parties should wait until they see this newly released version of the report, suggesting that they believed it was unreasonable for each redaction to be challenged, as some would not be overturned.

District Judge Reggie Walton, who is overseeing the case, has set a series of deadlines in the lawsuits that stretch into the summer, indicating that the case will not be fully resolved for several more months.

Walton, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, said during last week's hearing that both parties have to make challenges to the redactions "in good faith," noting that the government has the right to withhold information such as grand jury matters.

He has also said that he understands the desire to quickly move forward with the case.

EPIC is also suing under FOIA for the Justice Department to release the underlying evidence used to draft the Mueller report.

The privacy group reiterated in a blog post after the second version of the report was released on Monday that it still plans to challenge each redaction made to the document.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrClash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash Schiff: Impeachment proceedings could be 'tool' to get information, evidence Trump fires back at 'loser' GOP lawmaker who said he'd engaged in 'impeachable conduct' MORE said ahead of the initial release of the Mueller report that he would redact certain information from the document.

But House Democrats are fighting to obtain the entire report as well as all of the underlying evidence.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee announced earlier Monday that lawmakers would hold a markup of a contempt citation for Barr on Wednesday after he missed a deadline to hand over the documents. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) said later Monday that the Justice Department agreed to meet with his staff on Tuesday about the report.