WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department will release on Thursday a redacted version of the nearly 400-page report of special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidency.
In a steady drumbeat against the Mueller investigation, Trump claimed again Tuesday that he has already been exonerated of wrongdoing linked to the election, even as he and the American public await details of the prosecutor’s 22-month investigation.
“No Collusion – No Obstruction!” Trump said on Twitter.
On Monday, the U.S. leader contended that “these crimes were committed” by his 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and “Dirty Cops,” his derogatory term for former top U.S. law enforcement officials, “and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!”
Mueller investigated Trump campaign contacts with Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe. Sparring over the report in advance of its release is rampant.
Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of Mueller’s findings 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.
Trump tweeted that Mueller’s report “was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax … Since there was no Collusion, why was there an Investigation in the first place! Answer – Dirty Cops, Dems and Crooked Hillary!”
Barr, a Trump appointee as the country’s top law enforcement official, said last week he believes that top American intelligence agencies spied on the Trump campaign. He later amended his remarks, saying that while he is “not saying that improper surveillance occurred,” he is “concerned about it and looking into it.”
Barr said he would examine the details of how the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation began.
As for the Mueller report, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the U.S. cable news program 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.
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.”
Opposition Democrats like Nadler have launched new investigations of Trump, a Republican, but the president is objecting.
On Twitter, Trump said last Saturday, “Why should Radical Left Democrats in Congress have a right to retry and examine the $35,000,000 (two years in the making) No Collusion Mueller Report….”
Barr has said he will release as much of the Mueller report as possible, while excluding material Mueller included from secret grand jury testimony and confidential U.S. intelligence sources, information about ongoing investigations and material that might prove damaging to peripheral figures in the investigation who have not been charged with criminal offenses. The extent of his redactions is not known.