AP NEWS
Click to copy
Click to copy

Robert Mueller delivers report to AG Barr, ending special counsel probe

March 22, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report to the Justice Department Friday, concluding his probe of possible Russian interference in the 2016 election without bringing public charges against President Trump.

A security officer from Mr. Mueller’s team hand-delivered the report to the Justice Department’s leaders, and Attorney General William Barr then informed Congress of the move.

Mr. Barr, in a letter to top lawmakers, said he has concluded there was no malfeasance in the special counsel’s operations, and he will now review the report and inform Congress of the “principal conclusions,” perhaps as early as this weekend.

The attorney general is expected to make the report available to lawmakers and the public, a department official said.

Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, is not expected to make any more indictments, though he will remain at work to wind down operations and assist Mr. Barr.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said “very few people” have seen the report, which she described as “comprehensive.”

Congressional Democrats worried that the White House would try to get a “sneak peek” or interfere in the release of the report, but a presidential spokeswoman said Friday evening they had not seen nor been briefed on the report.

Democrats also ramped up calls for Mr. Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill about his work, which they had at one point believed would lay out a case of “collusion” between the president’s team and Russian operatives, and later believed would show Mr. Trump engaged in obstruction of the FBI’s investigation.

Republicans were confident Friday that no such conclusions have been made and they said the best way to put the collusion claims to rest was to make the report public.

That decision rests with Mr. Barr.

“I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position that I may be able to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” Mr. Barr wrote in a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

“Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and to the public consistent with the law,” he wrote.

Barr noted in the letter that neither he nor his predecessors overruled any of Mr. Mueller’s actions, which included indictments against 34 individuals, including 25 Russians, and three corporations.

Mr. Mueller, a former FBI director, has never publicly linked Mr. Trump or members of his campaign to colluding with Russia to sway the election.

Instead, he has snared Trump campaign and transition team figures on charges of lying to Congress or to federal investigators, and on financial irregularities.

The most intriguing charges to stem from the probe were actually brought by federal prosecutors in New York, who won a guilty plea from former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen on charges of illegal campaign payoffs to porn stars to silence them from election-season disclosures of their claims of affairs with Mr. Trump well before he was a political candidate. The president now acknowledges the payments but denies the affairs.

Among others pleading guilty to various charges were Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, his one-time campaign chairman and deputy chairman.

Still to face trial is longtime political aide Roger Stone, who is still awaiting trial on allegations he worked as a conduit for emails Russian operatives stole from Democratic figures during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Mueller’s probe has been controversial from the start.

He was appointed in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, acting because then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from decisions surrounding Russia. The appointment came little more than a week after Mr. Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey at Mr. Rosenstein’s recommendation.

Mr. Mueller was tasked with picking up the probe Mr. Comey had already been pursuing, based in part on now largely discredited anti-Trump dossier that emerged at the end of the 2016 campaign, which suggested deep collusion between Russians and Mr. Trump.

The president’s own actions, including allegedly pursuing business dealings in Moscow even after he claimed he’d stopped and publicly inviting the Russians to release Hillary Clinton’s emails, fueled demands for the probe particularly after intelligence officials revealed the extent of Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump has repeated railed against probe, calling it a “witch hunt” and “hoax.”

This week he voiced support for making Mr. Mueller’s findings publicly available, but also repeated his charge that Mr. Mueller is tainted.

Mr. Trump told Fox Business Network on Friday that “people will not stand for” a report that’s unfavorable to him.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.