Three days after Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Mueller wrote Barr a letter complaining that Barr’s memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” leading to “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” The Washington Post reported late Tuesday.
In a call the next day, Mueller told Barr nothing in his summary “was inaccurate or misleading,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. Legal analysts were stunned that Mueller put his concerns about Barr’s assessment down in writing.
“We are conditioned not to ‘go to paper,'” Chuck Rosenberg, who was Mueller’s counsel as FBI director, told Politico. “There are times you get mad, or frustrated, and think someone is making a bad decision. But you pick up the phone and call them. I think I only went to paper a handful of times in 20 years at the Justice Department. In the time I worked for Bob in the FBI, I can’t think of a time he did that.”
Former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich called the letter “an extraordinary move” for Mueller, who “doesn’t do things like this. Apparently he didn’t appreciate having his hard work falsified.” Former U.S. attorney Harry Litman said that “for the laconic and obedient Mueller, it’s almost like lighting yourself on fire in front of the DOJ.”
We already knew members of Mueller’s team were upset with Barr’s characterization of their work, but “what we didn’t know until today is that Mueller was pissed,” legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN Tuesday night. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman had another explanation: “Muller seems to have learned the lesson that a lot of people who have been around Donald Trump’s world learned — and Mueller knows, because almost all of them were witnesses for him — that you have to put everything down on paper. This was not enough to just voice his concerns privately to Barr, there had to be a letter documenting it, and it’s a stunning letter.”
Read more: theweek.com