By Louis Casiano
Published March 24, 2019
U.S. Attorney General William Barr spent Saturday poring over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s confidential report of his two-year Russia probe, as Barr and his advisers decide how much of Mueller's findings will be made available to Congress and the American public.
The first summary of Mueller’s report could be released Sunday, people familiar with the process told the Associated Press. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed and oversaw Mueller, spent Saturday analyzing the report and labored to condense its main conclusions about interactions between members of the Trump campaign and Russians.
Mueller delivered the final report to Barr on Friday, signaling an end to the 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether attempts by associates of President Trump aided them, the New York Times reported.
Barr said he wants to release as much of the report as he can under the law, which would require him to weigh a Department of Justice protocol of not releasing negative information about people not indicted against the public interest. Congressional Democrats want the full report released.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to members of Congress that Barr’s offer to provide a summary of the principal conclusions was “insufficient.” She later told Democrats on a conference call that she would reject a classified briefing of the report, saying the information must be provided in a way that would allow lawmakers to discuss it publicly.
“Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise,” Pelosi wrote in the letter.
U.S. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin, D-Md., told the Washington Post that House Democrats’ objective is to ensure that Barr releases “the entire Mueller report and all of the underlying evidence that it is built on.”
“Obviously the congressional scope of inquiry is far broader than that of a special counsel,” he said. “We’ve got a broader interest than just nailing particular individuals for crimes committed.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a warning for his fellow Democrats who remain hopeful the report will implicate Trump in any wrongdoing: "Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters."
Trump has blasted Mueller’s investigation almost daily since it began, calling it a “witch hunt” and insisting there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia. Since Mueller delivered the report Friday, the president has remained uncharacteristically quiet. He was spending the weekend in Florida, where he met with Caribbean leaders and played golf.
On Saturday, the White House said it had not been briefed on the report.
In the end, Mueller indicted 34 people, including the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference through either hacking Democratic email accounts during the 2016 campaign season or spreading disinformation in an orchestrated social media campaign.
Other Trump associates, including Donald Trump Jr., have sparked speculation about possible wrongdoing. Trump Jr. played a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was interviewed at least twice by prosecutors.
Five Trump aides pleaded guilty to charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
On Friday, the Republican National Committee emphasized Trump’s cooperation with the investigation.
“It’s long past time Democrats drop their politically motivated calls for never-ending investigations,” said a copy of the talking points, obtained by the Times.
Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said Saturday that the case against former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Gates was a cooperator in Mueller’s investigation and continues to help in several other investigations.