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.
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.”
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.