US Attorney General scours Mueller report
WASHINGTON (AP) — United States (US) Attorney General William Barr scoured special counsel Robert Mueller’s confidential report on the Russia investigation with his advisers Saturday, deciding how much Congress and the American public will get to see about the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Moscow’s efforts to elect him.
Barr was on pace to release his first summary of Mueller’s findings on Sunday, persons familiar with the process said.
The attorney general’s decision on what to finally disclose seems almost certain to set off a fight with congressional Democrats, who want access to all of Mueller’s findings — and supporting evidence — on whether Trump’s 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later sought to obstruct the investigation.
Mueller delivered his full report to Barr on Friday.
The Russia investigation has shadowed Trump for nearly two years and has ensnared his family and close advisers.
Political observers say no matter the findings in Mueller’s report, the probe has already illuminated Russia’s assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.
Barr has said he wants to release as much as he can under the law.
That decision will require him to weigh the Justice Department’s longstanding protocol of not releasing negative information about people who are not indicted against the extraordinary public interest in a criminal investigation into the president and his campaign.
Democrats are already citing the department’s recent precedent of norm-breaking disclosures, including during the Hillary Clinton email investigation, to argue that they are entitled to Mueller’s entire report and the underlying evidence he collected.
Even with the details still under wraps, Friday’s end to the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump’s inner circle who had feared a final round of charges could target more Trump associates or members of the president’s family.
The White House sought to keep its distance, saying today it had not been briefed on the report.
Trump, who has relentlessly criticised Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” went golfing and was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.