On May 9, Fox and Friends hosts falsely claimed that Attorney General William Barr is “following the law” by not releasing the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Muller’s report on Trump-Russia investigation. The hosts repeatedly claimed that by demanding the full report, congressional Democrats are trying to force Barr to break the law.
The attorney general redacted four types of content from the Mueller report provided to Congress and the public: grand jury materials, material that could compromise sources and methods, material related to ongoing investigations, and material related to peripheral third parties. In a letter, Barr informed the chairs of the Senate and House judiciary committees that he would provide a “less-redacted” version of the Mueller report -- revealing all but the material related to the grand jury -- only to the chairs and ranking members of those committees and the “Gang of Eight” (the Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees).
But according to Lawfare, “For the latter three categories of redacted information, there is no legal bar to the attorney general providing such material to members of Congress. Members routinely review classified information, and they can review sensitive law enforcement related or personal information in a nonpublic setting.”
The fourth category of redacted information, grand jury material, is subject to the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 6(e). As two assistant Watergate special prosecutors noted in a letter to The Washington Post, “Rule 6(e) was amended in 2002 to permit ‘an attorney for the government [to] . . . disclose any grand-jury matter involving . . . a threat of attack or other grave hostile acts of a foreign power . . . to any appropriate federal . . . official, for the purpose of preventing or responding to such threat or activities.’ This exception allows ‘transmission by a government attorney, without court intervention, of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence to the House committee.’” Although a recent ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit “narrowed the grounds on which a court could release grand jury information to the House judiciary committee,” according to Lawfare, there are ways that material could be released to Congress, including through an order by the judge overseeing the grand jury proceedings.
From the May 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): If the attorney general did turn over the grand jury testimony, he would be breaking the law.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): It's really easy to solve.
KILMEADE: -- which is redacted.
DOOCY: Congress, just change the law because the attorney general is following the law.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): You’re right. They are asking him to break the law and release the whole thing.
DOOCY: Right. You want to change the law, Congress, go ahead and do that.
KILMEADE: It’s not real fight. It’s not real.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): It’s not. It’s political theatrics.
EARHARDT: Just think about it. [Barr] is the head of the DOJ. He is the attorney general, the top law enforcement, top justice guy, OK? He is following the law by not releasing the full report and they are saying they want him to break the law, and if he doesn't break the law, then they will hold him in contempt, maybe arrest him. Who knows?