‘Full’ Mueller Report Expected This Morning

The Justice Department will release a 'lightly redacted' version of the 400-page report at 11 Eastern.

Almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered the results of his investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russian government interference in the 2016 election to the Attorney General, the public will see what is purported to be a ‘lightly redacted’ version.

WaPo:

The report — the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the White House on — will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and because some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, these people said. But it will offer a detailed blow-by-blow of the president’s alleged conduct — analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller’s inquiry, they added.

Attorney General William P. Barr plans to hold a 9:30 a.m. news conference to address “process questions” and provide an “overview of the report,” a senior Justice Department official said. The report will be delivered on discs to Capitol Hill between 11 a.m. and noon and posted on the special counsel’s website thereafter, the official said.

[…]

Thursday’s rollout plan — and news of the White House’s advance briefing, which was first reported by ABC News and the New York Times — sparked a political firestorm Wednesday, with Democrats suggesting the attorney general was trying to improperly color Mueller’s findings before the public could read them.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at a news conference that Barr “appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump” and had “taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.” He said after his committee had time to review the redacted report, he would ask Mueller and other members of his team to testify before Congress.

While the report’s light redactions might allay some of their concerns, Democrats are likely to bristle at any material that is withheld. What the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers might view as modest, lawmakers might see as overly aggressive. The redacted version of the report is expected to reveal extensive details about Trump’s actions in office that came under scrutiny, but it is unclear how much the public will learn about how the special counsel’s team investigated the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and Russian contacts with Trump associates.

Barr also is likely to face scrutiny over the Justice Department’s talks with the White House — which could help Trump and his attorneys hone in advance their attacks on the report.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, has said he is preparing a counter-report to Mueller’s findings and in a recent interview said his document would explain from the president’s viewpoint every episode that could be considered obstructive. Giuliani and others have long feared Mueller’s findings on obstruction, viewing them as potentially more damaging than anything found on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians.

Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Russians and Trump or his campaign, Barr said in a brief letter describing the special counsel’s conclusions shared with Congress late last month.

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, told The Post, “We do not discuss conversations that we may or may not have had with the president.” A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to address questions about its briefings to the White House, the report’s redactions or Mueller’s findings on obstruction.

Trump had also apparently been briefed in advance of the planned news conference, which he revealed Wednesday during a radio appearance only to have it confirmed later by a Justice Department spokeswoman. Barr will appear alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the spokeswoman said, and he planned to take questions.

WaPo, “Mueller report will be lightly redacted, revealing detailed look at obstruction of justice investigation”

I’ll save commentary on the details of the report for when I have them. Right now, I don’t know much more than I did when Barr released his four-page letter describing the report’s findings.

That the Attorney General has briefed his boss, the President, on the findings of an investigation of the President is hardly surprising. It would be odd, indeed, to expect the President to receive the details of an investigation into his campaign at the same time as the general public.

Do I think Barr is helping Trump spin the results of the report to his political favor? Sure. Do I think Nadler and the Congressional Democrats screaming about it are trying to spin this to cast the worst possible light on Trump and his team? Sure.

As I’ve written previously, redacting the report to protect sensitive foreign intelligence and grand jury information is not only reasonable but correct. We now know that the reasons for redaction will be broader:

Mr. Barr has said that law enforcement officials are blacking out sensitive information and that the redactions will be color-coded so we will know the reason behind each one. They will fall into four categories:

Information that has been presented to a grand jury, which is subject to secrecy rules.

Material that intelligence officials fear could compromise sensitive sources and methods.

Information that could hamper other current investigations, including spinoffs of the Mueller inquiry. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and Manhattan are investigating the finances of the Trump inaugural committee and hush payments intended to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to upend Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Material that the Justice Department believes would unfairly infringe on the privacy and damage the reputations of “peripheral third parties.”

NYT, “The Mueller Report: What to Watch For Today”

These additional categories—and especially “could hamper other current investigations”—are likely to cause frustration for opponents of the President. Given the politically charged nature of the investigation, I think key Members of Congress—including at least the Democratic and Republican leaders and the Judiciary and Intelligence chairmen and ranking members of both the House and the Senate—should be afforded an opportunity to compare the full report with the DOJ’s redacted version to satisfy themselves that the redactions weren’t motivated primarily by politics.

I continue to expect, as I did when Barr’s four-page letter was released, that the details of Mueller’s investigation will be more politically embarrassing for Trump and his team than the top-line conclusions. But I also expect that Speaker Pelosi’s assessment that impeachment is ‘just not worth it’ will stand and that few Republicans who now stand with Trump will shun him based on this new information.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Russia Investigation, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    I also expect that Speaker Pelosi’s assessment that impeachment is ‘just not worth it’ will stand and that few Republicans who now stand with Trump will shun him based on this new information.

    On premise “A” I totally agree. I’m pretty doubtful about premise “B” — unless by “shun” you mean “make tut tut noises and the fall back in line (unless they announce they are not running for reelection).”

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Thank you for putting “lightly redacted” in quotes. I wrote a nasty comment to WAPO this morning for headlining the report will be lightly redacted when at this point all they really know is that Barr said it would be lightly redacted.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This is such a scam.
    Baghdad Barr is certainly earning his money.

    5
    2
  4. gVOR08 says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in broad outline we probably know what’s in the report. Mueller’s team and the Grand Jury may not have leaked, but apparently everyone else did.

    Trump’s organization has laundered money, Trump is connected to foreign and domestic mobs, Trump Org has aggressively refrained from due diligence in corrupt deals, Russian actors aided Trump’s election and Trump thinks that’s a good thing, Trump’s wealth and success are mostly a fraud. But most of that was known before the election, mores the pity.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions: Why did Trump hire Manafort and Flynn? Why were people trying to set up secret back channels to Putin? When the Rs rewrote the Ukraine plank was that just Manafort freelancing? Is Trump even pretending to have reasons for supporting Russia and Saudi Arabia other than personal gain? What do Trump and Putin talk about in their meetings? Did Trump know he was laundering Russian money? And on and on and on. I’ll be waiting to see if we get any answers from the FBI and DoJ.

    10
  5. Teve says:

    Ken Tremendous
    @KenTremendous
    ·
    8h
    “Mueller Report’s done!”
    “Cool. Can we see it?”
    “Sure. Just gonna spin it, wait two weeks, show it to the guy it’s about, let him tweet 100x about how it exonerates him, redact it, and hold a press conference to spin it again. Then you can…kind of see it.”
    “Seems fine.”

  6. HelloWorld! says:

    I’m actually going to read the report tonight, and try to do so with a veal of ignorance. try to reset my expectations of the executive, and decide for myself if the press really is manipulating me or if its only partisan sources or if its the political parties try to confuse people. Also, maybe only 1 party is and the other isn’t. I don’t know.

    2
    4
  7. Pylon says:

    Example:

    The President did XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX not XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX collude with Russians XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

    The end.

  8. Kathy says:

    I’m confused. Is Barr Attorney general or Dennison’s personal lawyer?

    5
    1
  9. Joe says:

    If it weren’t for corrupt motives, this president would have no motives at all.

    3
    1
  10. Mister Bluster says:

    @HelloWorld!:..veal of ignorance.

    that would be with ketchup no doubt.

    4
    1
  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Actually, no, I don’t think Barr is acting as Dennison’s personal lawyer. Barr’s loyalty is to the Republican Party, the Unitary Executive ( the strong form, i.e. fascism), the FBI, the DoJ, his cronies, and his own career. Not necessarily in that order. I suspect he views Trump as just an unfortunate speed bump in making sure the right people stay in charge.

  12. PJ says:
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Makes the best schnitzel.

  14. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    Be patient, the download seems to be slow.

  15. PJ says:

    @Kathy:
    Quite slow, they haven’t finished redacting the last pages…

  16. PJ says:
  17. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    I’m pretty doubtful about premise “B” — unless by “shun” you mean “make tut tut noises and the fall back in line (unless they announce they are not running for reelection).”

    We’re in agreement, I think. I don’t know that any Republican Representatives or Senators who aren’t already against Trump will turn on him. But, more broadly, I don’t think the report will harm Trump with many people who still identify as Republican at this point.

  18. PJ says:

    Lots of “Harm to ongoing matter” redactions, I would assume that would be harm to the ongoing matter of tRump’s presidency.

    1
    1
  19. Kathy says:

    I wonder why governments don’t like to release documents in searchable, easily copied formats, be it in PDF or DOCX.

  20. PJ says:

    @Kathy:

    I wonder why governments don’t like to release documents in searchable, easily copied formats, be it in PDF or DOCX.

    This.

    I would assume that someone will soon OCR it and that there will be a version that you actually can search. But really, why not release a version that can be searched.

  21. Pylon says:

    Everything on Wikileaks is redacted (ongoing investigation).

    Interesting – Trump’s take on the appointment of the SI.

    https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/1118896790835736576/photo/1

  22. mattbernius says:

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into things, but I feel like there’s a strong suggestion that Mueller thought Trump wanted to more directly obstruct (or at least directly take obstructive actions), but was prevented from doing so by his staff. So in this respect, Trump’s advisors seem to have earned their money by protecting him from his worst impulses…

  23. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    Acrobat Pro can render the file in DOCX and DOC formats, usually in searchable form, but you lose some text here and there, and it doesn’t quite handle tables or graphics very well.

    But here’s the thing: no one composes in PDF. Everyone uses Word or some similar program. Turning those files to PDF may be sensible (it’s not in 99% of cases), but ti can be done maintaining the ability to search and copy.

    Still, think about the poor reporters who got the Pentagon Papers photocopied, without page numbers, and often not even in order.

  24. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: The manual job of rearranging papers might actually be easier than finding missing bytes on your computer!

  25. Kathy says:

    @Franklin:

    Well, they all look like strings of ones and zeroes, so….

    BTW, I’m ignoring everything Dennison, Barr, and any and all of their lackeys say about the report. Chances are what they say is either an outright lie, spin, or spin on lies.

    Remember, too, that Nixon thought the White House tapes would prove to be exculpatory. He might as well have hung himself with them, and they’d have been far less damaging.

  26. Pylon says:

    @Kathy:

    Remember, too, that Nixon thought the White House tapes would prove to be exculpatory.

    I’m the same way when I hear myself sing on tape. “Do I really sound like that”? Photos of me get a similar reaction.

  27. Pylon says:

    Josh Marshall:

    So one big finding so far, following up on David’s note below. It’s in the “Introduction to Volume II”, the obstruction part. It’s very specific and detailed. But it’s only two pages. You can read it yourself. It’s pages 213-14 in the PDF, pages 1 and 2 of that volume of the report. The gist though is that the Special Counsel decided not only that they couldn’t indict a sitting President but that it would not be fair even to accuse him of a crime without indicting him. They also say that if they decided he shouldn’t face prosecution (under the normal standards that would apply to a non-President) that they would say so. They did not. The gist is that the whole non-finding of obstruction seems to rest on the DOJ/OLC belief that a sitting President cannot be indicted – quite contrary to Barr’s claim.
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/key-part-of-the-report-on-obstruction

  28. Pylon says:

    “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of that facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

    “Third, the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.”

    “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct – and, most immediately , to reports that the President was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.”

    “Those denials are contrary to the evidence and suggest the President’s awareness that the direction to McGahn could be seen as improper.”

    Mueller establishes cause to prosecute a crime. He didn’t indict because he thought he couldn’t. Period.

  29. Teve says:

    I haven’t read the report and I doubt I ever will, but the general response of journalists on Twitter so far is “wow Barr is lying his ass off.”

    2
    1
  30. Scott F. says:

    Indictable conspiracy, impeachable collusion or otherwise, any Democratic campaign has to be able to make hay of this direct quote of the first half of the sentence Barr elided from the report in his memo:

    “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts…”

    Any PR hack could make the “Trump is best for Russia” ads this quote provides the evidence for.

  31. Teve says:

    Andy Kroll
    @AndyKroll
    ·
    16m
    Remember what
    @PressSec
    Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the media that the White House had heard from “countless” FBI agents saying they’d lost confidence in Comey?

    Mueller report: “Sanders acknowledged to investigators that her comments were not founded on anything.”

  32. Teve says:

    Trip Gabriel
    @tripgabriel
    ·
    8m
    The Special Counsel found evidence of crimes outside its scope and made 14 criminal referrals to other jurisdictions. Only 2 of them are known to date.

  33. Pylon says:

    Is it just me or do the redactions actually not help Trump very much (because they let everyone’s imagination go wild).

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Pylon:

    Is it just me or do the redactions actually not help Trump very much

    How can you tell if you don’t know what’s in ‘em?

  35. The abyss says:

    @Mister Bluster: I didn’t know that veal could read, but can I get bechamel sauce for my veal? Ketchup covers the taste of the veal too much.

  36. The abyss says:

    @PJ: Because
    1) if they are in easily navigated formats them more people will read them?
    2) it cheats grad students who turn the unnavigable formats into navigable ones out of a project?

    (Just blue skying here, you understand.)

  37. Tyrell says:

    I question and disagree with the timing of all this going on. Could they not have waited until next week or have done this earlier in the week?