Tue | Apr 23, 2019

Key findings coming on Mueller report ... but not quite yet

Published:Sunday | March 24, 2019 | 12:33 AM
William Simms places newspaper front pages from around the nation in display cases at the Newseum yesterday in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller closed his long and contentious Russia investigation with no new charges, ending the probe that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency.

WASHINGTON (AP):

Attorney General William Barr spent yesterday reviewing the special counsel’s confidential report on the Trump-Russia investigation, but Barr’s “principal conclusions” summary for Congress was not coming for at least another day.

No summary for Judiciary Committee leaders – or the public – just yet, said a senior Justice Department official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorised to publicly discuss the review process.

Barr has said he expected to send his version to the lawmakers as soon as this weekend after determining what should be made public. Special counsel Robert Mueller sent the attorney general the final report on Friday on his 22-month investigation that cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency.

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 orbit who had feared a final round of charges could ensnare more Trump associates, including members of the president’s family.

The report was accessible to only a few Justice officials while Barr prepared to summarise the “principal conclusions”.

BARR’S SUMMARY

Trump, who has relentlessly criticised Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt”, was at his golf club in Florida on Saturday, and House Democrats were planning to gather by phone late in the day as they waited for Barr’s summary.

Word of the report’s delivery to Barr on Friday triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.

The next step was up to Barr, who declared he was committed to transparency and speed.

The White House sought to keep some distance, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the report. Trump, surrounded by advisers and political supporters at his resort in Florida, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

With no details released at this point, it was not known whether Mueller’s report answers the core questions of his investigation: Did Trump’s campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favour of the celebrity businessman? Also, did Trump take steps later, including firing his FBI director, to obstruct the probe?

But the delivery of the report does mean the investigation has concluded without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia, or of obstruction by the president. A Justice Department official confirmed that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments.