By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT) March 7, 2020
Washington (CNN)A federal judge criticized Attorney General William Barr on Thursday for his handling of the Mueller report when it was released last spring, saying Barr’s early description of the report didn’t match the special counsel’s actual conclusions.
Judge Reggie Walton asked if Barr’s actions were a “calculated attempt” to help President Donald Trump and opined the attorney general had a “lack of candor” with the public and Congress.
“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report,” Walton wrote on Thursday. Barr’s initial publicly announced interpretation of the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller “cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”
Walton’s ruling on Thursday came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, in which a transparency group and news organization have pressed for more access to the Mueller report and other documents since the investigation ended last spring. Walton has expressed doubts about the Justice Department’s handling of the Mueller report previously, but the judge’s written opinion on Thursday was the sharpest commentary yet on the Department of Justice’s handling of the investigation’s end.
Barr has been under fire for months for his apparent political moves to protect the President and his allies from within the Justice Department.