Rumor has it: Mueller report expected soon

By Jonathan Easley, Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver

From Capitol Hill to the White House, rumors are flying that the special counsel probe into Russia’s election interference has run its course and that Robert Mueller is preparing to hand over a final report of his team’s findings to Attorney General William Barr, potentially as soon as today.

Photographers have been staking out the special counsel’s office and snapping early morning photos of Mueller arriving at work in a baseball cap. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were both spotted walking into the White House in the cold rain on Thursday.

Like everything the special counsel has done, the timing for the completion of the probe is shrouded in mystery. But Mueller’s prosecutors have been returning to their day jobs and the special counsel has not opened a new case since indicting Roger Stone in late January.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind: Will Mueller drop any additional indictments before closing the books on his investigation? To date, there have not been any charges that go to the heart of the probe – whether President Trump or his campaign officials conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

The special counsel’s team is funded through September, but it could be that their substantive work is behind them and the following months will focus on the lingering outstanding cases and sentencing hearings.

The completion of the special counsel investigation, which has proceeded for 22 months at an average cost of about $769,000 per month, will be a historic moment. It will also open up a host of new questions and political arguments.

Who gets to see the report?

  • The special counsel is required by law to submit a report of his findings to the Department of Justice (DOJ), outlining for the attorney general the evidence and prosecutions he pursued.

Trump has said he wants the report to be made public. Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding it be released in its entirety.

Barr has said he will scrub the report for classified information and make as much of it public as he can. Many details could be withheld on grounds of national security because information about Russia’s interference in elections is drawn, in part, from U.S. and international intelligence gathering.

Barr also said he may write the public report himself by summarizing what Mueller gives him. That could set off a fight between the DOJ and Democratic lawmakers in the House, who could use their subpoena powers to try to obtain the original document. House Democrats have already said they will convene hearings and call witnesses once a report passes out of Mueller’s hands.

White House lawyers and Trump’s personal attorneys have said they want to review the report before it is publicly released. There is potential for a clash between the White House and DOJ, if Trump decides to claim executive privilege on some matters. It’s unclear whether Barr would share his report with the White House before releasing it to the public\; the attorney general told lawmakers he’s committed to ensuring there is no interference by the administration.

Additionally, Trump has said his team will release a lengthy response to counter any information Mueller forwards to the Justice Department.

What will be in the report?

  • There is no template for the final report and Mueller can include as much information or as little as he likes.

Will the Mueller report tell the definitive story behind the allegations of “collusion” that have dogged the president, his family and inner circle? Does Mueller believe that the president ever sought to obstruct his investigation? What investigations did Mueller pursue but not prosecute?

 

We may never know.

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