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Mueller Report Release on 2016 US Presidential Elections Appears Imminent

Washington is expecting that Attorney General William Barr could disclose the report on Monday or Tuesday

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mueller report
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife Ann, depart St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House, in Washington, March 24, 2019. VOA

Release appears imminent of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly 400-page report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but sparring over Mueller’s conclusions is already rampant.

Washington is expecting that Attorney General William Barr could disclose the report on Monday or Tuesday, much-awaited details from Mueller’s 22-month investigation of Donald Trump campaign contacts with Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News Sunday, “I don’t think it is going to be damaging to the president.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that is probing the election, told CNN on Sunday that Barr should release the full report and underlying investigatory evidence to his panel, but Barr has balked.

“To deny the Judiciary Committee and the Congress the knowledge of what’s in parts of the Mueller report is not proper,” Nadler said.

No one other than Barr and key officials in the Justice Department, Mueller and his team of prosecutors appear to know what the report says about the extent of Trump campaign links with Russia during his 2016 campaign or whether he took any actions as the U.S. leader aimed at inhibiting the investigation.

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McClean, Virginia, U.S., March 25, 2019. VOA

Barr released a four-page summary of the Mueller conclusions three weeks ago, saying the prosecutor had concluded that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia to help him win but had reached no conclusion whether Trump obstructed justice. But with Mueller not reaching a decision on the obstruction issue, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided no obstruction charges against Trump were warranted.

 Nadler said that even though Barr concluded no obstruction charges should be brought against Trump, his decision should not go without review. Nadler noted that Barr, before he became the country’s top law enforcement official, wrote that Trump could not obstruct justice because the president “is the boss of the Justice Department and could order it around to institute an investigation, to eliminate an investigation or could not be questioned about that.”

“In other words, (Barr) thinks as a matter of law a president can’t obstruct justice, which is a very wild theory to which most people do not agree,” Nadler said. “The fact of the matter is we should see and judge for ourselves and Congress should judge whether the president obstructed justice or not, and the public ultimately.”

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Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks during a mark up hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 26, 2019. VOA

Nadler said it “may be that Mueller decided not to prosecute obstruction of justice for various reasons that there wasn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt on some things. But there still may have been proof of some very bad deeds and very bad motives. And we need to see them and the public needs to see them.”

Since the release of Barr’s summary, Trump has claimed “total exoneration, no collusion, no obstruction.” Trump for months derided Mueller’s investigation, but said he believes Mueller acted honorably in clearing him of colluding with Russia.

Opposition Democrats like Nadler have launched new investigations of Trump, a Republican, but the president is objecting.
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On Twitter, Trump said Saturday, “Why should Radical Left Democrats in Congress have a right to retry and examine the $35,000,000 (two years in the making) No Collusion Mueller Report, when the crime committed was by Crooked Hillary, the DNC and Dirty Cops? Attorney General Barr will make the decision!” He was referring to Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, and the Democratic National Committee, which supported her candidacy.

Barr has said he will release as much of the Mueller report as possible, while excluding material Mueller included from secret grand jury testimony and confidential U.S. intelligence sources. (VOA)

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Trump Moves to New Phase with Public Release of Mueller’s Report, Obstruction Charges Set for Release

Congress and the American people will for the first time see for themselves in detail what Mueller examined

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mueller report
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, April 17, 2019. VOA

One of the dominant stories in the two-year presidency of Donald Trump moves into a new phase Thursday with the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of election collusion and obstruction of justice.

Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to comment about Mueller’s report at a morning news conference, with copies being sent a short time later to Congress and then posted online.

Congress and the American people will for the first time see for themselves in detail what Mueller examined as he and his team of federal investigators worked to determine whether Trump’s campaign or its associates worked with Russia in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.

U.S. intelligence agencies in early 2017 assessed that Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, carried out a campaign to undermine the vote and had a clear preference for Trump to win.

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FILE – William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

Lightly redacted

People familiar with the 400-page Mueller report who spoke to the The Washington Post and The New York Times said the document released Thursday will be lightly redacted and go into great detail about the various allegations of Trump obstructing the federal investigation into Russia’s election-related activities.

Barr has released a short letter with his summary of Mueller’s findings, most notably that Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia and that in Barr’s opinion the information from Mueller did not show enough to support charges the president obstructed justice.

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FILE – The letter from Attorney General William Barr to Congress on the conclusions reached by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia probe, March 24, 2019. VOA

The Mueller report would have been scrutinized in great detail even without Barr’s letter, but many will be looking to see how his conclusions appear when compared to the more complete underlying information that will be available to the public.

Congressional Democrats are expected to use subpoena powers to demand the full report. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday that assuming the report is heavily redacted, his committee would “most certainly” issue subpoenas “in very short order.”

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FILE – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice. VOA

Barr will be joined at his news conference by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who for much of the Mueller investigation was the one overseeing the probe at the Department of Justice. No one from Mueller’s team will take part in the briefing.

Trump said Wednesday he was considering holding his own news conference Thursday. Speaking on The Larry O’Connor Show on the local radio station WMAL, Trump said, “You’ll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow. Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a news conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that; we’ll see.”

‘Spinning the report’​

Nadler and the heads of key House committees strongly objected to the way the report’s release is being handled, saying Barr’s media appearance is “unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it.”

They called for Barr to cancel his news conference. But Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, defended Barr, accusing Democrats of “trying to spin the report.”

In addition, The New York Times reported Barr consulted with White House lawyers in recent days about the report, which helped Trump’s legal team in its preparations to respond to the release.

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House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., speaks with a reporter as he departs a news conference after the House voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, April 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Nadler, along with the heads of the House intelligence, oversight, financial services and foreign affairs committees, said in a letter, “There is no legitimate reason for the department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report.”

“These new actions by the attorney general reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump,” they wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the attorney general had “thrown out his credibility” with a “single-minded effort to protect” Trump.

“The American people deserve the truth, not a sanitized version of the Mueller Report approved by the Trump Admin,” she said on Twitter.

This is not the end

Whatever Congress and the public learn Thursday, the issues covered in the report are certain to endure in U.S. political discourse in the short term, with Barr scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, followed by an appearance at the House Judiciary Committee the next day.

Nadler has also said he will “probably find it useful” to call Mueller and his team to testify before his committee.

Looking to the longer term, it is highly unlikely the investigation will fade to irrelevance before the next presidential election in November 2020.

In one measure of public demand for the information, several publishers are offering people the ability to purchase printed copies of the report, and pre-orders alone on Amazon’s website ranked among the site’s top 100 in book sales before the report was even released.

What have long been public are the legal ramifications of Mueller’s probe.

mueller report
FILE – Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2013. VOA

Trump associates in jail

Some of the closest figures in Trump’s orbit pleaded guilty or were convicted of a range of offenses, often for lying about their contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign or just before he took office in January 2017.

Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, just before Trump assumed power, and is awaiting sentencing. A low-level foreign affairs adviser, George Papadopoulos, was jailed for 12 days after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Russia contacts.

Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in the early stages of a 7½-year prison term after being convicted and pleading guilty in two cases linked to financial corruption from his years of lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

Rick Gates, a business associate of Manafort’s and his deputy on the Trump campaign, was a key witness against Manafort at his trial, after pleading guilty to conspiring with him in financial wrongdoing from their years as lobbyists for Ukraine. He is awaiting sentencing.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, returns to Capitol Hill for a fourth day of testimony as Democrats pursue a flurry of investigations into Trump’s White House, businesses and presidential campaign, in Washington, March 6, 2019. VOA

Trump’s one-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to helping Trump make $280,000 in hush money payments to two women, an adult film actress and a Playboy model, to keep them quiet before the 2016 election about alleged decade-old sexual encounters they claimed to have had with Trump. Cohen, headed soon to prison for a three-year term, also admitted lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, a time when candidate Trump was telling voters he had ended his Russian business ventures.

Long-time Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress about his contacts with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in conjunction with the release of emails hacked by Russian operatives from the computers of Democratic officials that were damaging to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

ALSO READ: ‘Dirty Cops’ Ahead of Mueller Report Release, U.S. President Donald Trump Takes Stand

In addition, Mueller also charged 13 Russian nationals with trying to influence the 2016 election by tricking Americans into following fake social media accounts with material favorable to Trump and against Clinton. Another dozen Russian military intelligence officers were charged with the theft of the emails from the Democratic officials. None of the Russians is ever likely to face a trial in the U.S. because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. (VOA)