[Vision2020] Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General
thansen at moscow.com
Fri Mar 22 15:31:26 PDT 2019
First, though, a quick peak into Donald Trump’s future . . .
Courtesy of the New York Times at:
Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General
WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, according to the Justice Department, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.
Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter late Friday that he may brief them within days on the special counsel’s findings. “I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” he wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.
It is up to Mr. Barr how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered.
Mr. Barr wrote that he “remained committed to as much transparency as possible and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review.” He also said that Justice Department officials never had to check Mr. Mueller because he proposed an inappropriate or unwarranted investigative step — an action that Mr. Barr would have been required to report to Congress under the regulations. His statement suggests that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry proceeded without political interference.
Since Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, his team has focused on how Russian operatives sought to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, cooperated with them. While the inquiry, started months earlier by the F.B.I., unearthed a far-ranging Russian influence operation, no public evidence has emerged that the president or his aides illegally assisted it.
Nonetheless, the damage to Mr. Trump and those in his circle has been extensive. A half-dozen former Trump aides have been indicted or convicted of crimes, mostly for lying to federal investigators or Congress. Others remain under investigation in cases that Mr. Mueller’s office handed off to federal prosecutors in New York and elsewhere. Dozens of Russian intelligence officers or citizens, along with three Russian companies, were charged in cases that are likely to languish in court because the defendants cannot be extradited to the United States.
Only a handful of law enforcement officials have seen the report, a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said. She said a few members of Mr. Mueller’s team would remain to close down the office. Mr. Mueller will not recommend any new charges be filed, a senior Justice Department official said.
Mr. Barr told congressional leaders that he would decide what to release after consulting with Mr. Mueller and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who has overseen the investigation from the start. A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course.” She added that the White House had not seen or been briefed on the report, although officials were notified that Mr. Mueller had delivered it shortly before Congress was notified.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Senate Democrat, warned Mr. Barr not to allow the White House a “sneak preview” of the report before the public views it. They said that he should both make the full report public and share Mr. Mueller’s underlying evidence with Congress.
“The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” they said.
Even though Mr. Mueller’s report is complete, some aspects of his inquiry remain active and may be overseen by the same prosecutors once they are reassigned to their old jobs within the Justice Department. For instance, recently filed court documents suggest that investigators are still examining why the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort turned over campaign polling data in 2016 to a Russian associate whom prosecutors said was tied to Russian intelligence.
Mr. Mueller looked extensively at whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice to protect himself or his associates. But despite months of negotiations, prosecutors were unable to personally interview the president.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers insisted that he respond only to written questions from the special counsel. Even though under current Justice Department policy a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mr. Trump’s lawyers worried that his responses in an oral interview could bring political repercussions, including impeachment, or put him in legal jeopardy once he is out of office.
Not since Watergate has a special prosecutor’s inquiry so mesmerized the American public. Mr. Trump has helped make Mr. Mueller a household name, attacking his investigation an average of about twice a day as an unfair, politically motivated attempt to invalidate his election. He never forgave former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia inquiry, an action that cleared the way for his deputy, Mr. Rosenstein, to appoint Mr. Mueller.
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Mr. Trump reiterated his attacks on the special counsel this week, saying Mr. Mueller decided “out of the blue” to write a report, ignoring that regulations require him to do so. But the president also said the report should be made public because of “tens of millions” of Americans would want to know what it contains.
“Let people see it,” Mr. Trump said. “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing.”
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