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Transparency group sues for Mueller details

Special counsel Robert Mueller turned his report on the 2016 Trump campaign “Russia collusion” investigation in to the Department of Justice late Friday, just as offices were closing.

And apparently within minutes, a private organization filed a lawsuit demanding release of the information used to compile it.

The case was filed in federal court in Washington by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“EPIC challenges the failure of the DOJ to disclose non-exempt records in response to EPIC’s FOIA request concerning the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election,” the organization told the court.

A summary of the special counsel report released Sunday by Attorney General William Barr revealed that Mueller found no collusion by Trump or his campaign, even though Russians repeatedly approached members to try to suborn them.

The lawsuit said, however, the privacy group needed to know “whether the president unlawfully obstructed any investigation into Russian election interference or related matters.”

EPIC said Monday its case is based on a November 2018 FOIA request to the DOJ.

“The special counsel was authorized to conduct an investigation into Russian interference, including ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.’ Special Counsel Mueller has since brought criminal charges against 34 individuals and three organizations. EPIC, through its Democracy and Cybersecurity Project, has pursued multiple FOIA cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattacks), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS I (release of Trump’s tax returns), EPIC v. IRS II (release of Trump’s offers-in-compromise), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). The case for the release of the Mueller Report is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 19-810 (D.D.C.),” the group said.

The lawsuit alleged, “In 2016, the Russian government carried out a multi-pronged attack on the U.S. presidential election to destabilize U.S. democratic institutions and to aid the candidacy of Donald J. Trump.”

It cited a 2017 intel assessment that it was determined “with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

Part of those activities included the hacking of Democratic Party computers and the theft of emails and other information, which was released publicly, the complaint said.

Since the Sunday release of Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, Democrats high and low have been insisting that they get access to Mueller’s full report, as well as the supporting documents. Some of that information eventually may become public; other information could be withheld by executive privilege or other provisions.

Mueller was appointed to investigate the claims that largely arose from an opposition research document funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. His work resulted in charges against a couple of dozen individuals, including Americans, but none of the cases had anything to do with “collusion.”

EPIC said there are “several legal authorities under which the special counsel or attorney general may issue a report or otherwise disclose information concernng the special counsel’s investigation.”

EPIC is demanding “non-exempt records” that concern the investigation.

“Prompt disclosure of the requested records, which are of overwhelming public interest, is manded by the FOIA,” the case alleged. “The public has a right to know the full scope of Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election and whether the president of the United States played any role in such interference. … The requested records are vital to the public’s understanding of these issues and to the integrity of the political system in the United States.”

EPIC specifically is seeking 14 categories of records, including all documentation used for the investigation “whether or not such records were actually provided to the attorney general,” as well as “all drafts.”