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Justice Department Preparing for Mueller Report in the Coming Days
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50207"><span class="small">Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Thursday, 21 February 2019 09:34

Excerpt: "Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions."

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Capitol Hill in June 2017. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Capitol Hill in June 2017. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)


Justice Department Preparing for Mueller Report in the Coming Days

By Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post

21 February 19

 

ustice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The special counsel’s investigation has consumed Washington since it began in May 2017, and it increasingly appears to be nearing its end, which would send fresh shock waves through the political system. Mueller could deliver his report to Attorney General William P. Barr next week, according to a person familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations.

Regulations call for Mueller to submit to the attorney general a confidential explanation as to why he decided to charge certain individuals, as well as who else he investigated and why he decided not to charge those people. The regulations then call for the attorney general to report to Congress about the investigation.

An adviser to President Trump said there is palpable concern among the president’s inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct.

Even before he was confirmed by the Senate, Barr had preliminary discussions about the logistics surrounding the conclusion of Mueller’s inquiry, a second person said. At that time, though, Barr had not been briefed on the substance of Mueller’s investigation, so the conversations were limited.

CNN first reported Wednesday that Mueller could send a report to Barr as early as next week.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment, as did a Justice Department spokeswoman.

How detailed either Mueller’s report and the attorney general’s summary of the findings will be is unclear. Lawmakers have demanded that Mueller’s report be made public, but Barr has been noncommittal on that point, saying that he intends to be as forthcoming as the regulations and department practice allow. He has pointed, however, to Justice Department practices that insist on saying little or nothing about conduct that does not lead to criminal charges.

The special counsel’s office, which used to have 17 lawyers, is down to 12 now, and some of those attorneys have recently been in touch with their old bosses about returning to work, according to people familiar with the discussions. All but four of the remaining 12 lawyers are detailed from other Justice Department offices.

The end of the special counsel’s probe would not mean the end of criminal investigations connected to the president. Federal prosecutors in New York, for instance, are exploring whether corrupt payments were made in connection with Trump’s inaugural committee funding.

If Mueller does close up shop, government lawyers on his team would likely return to their original posts, but would be able to continue to work on the prosecution of cases initiated by the special counsel’s office.

That was the case for two special counsel lawyers, Brandon Van Grack and Scott Meisler, who have left the office formally but are still working on cases begun by Mueller.

When the special counsel brought the case against Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and friend, accusing him of lying to Congress, attorneys from the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington were assigned to it from the start — an indication that Mueller expects to hand off the investigation soon.

The four prosecutors remaining who aren’t part of the Justice Department are some of the special counsel’s highest-ranking lawyers: Aaron Zebley, who is effectively Mueller’s chief of staff; James Quarles, who is a senior executive in the office; Jeannie Rhee, the lead prosecutor in the case against Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney; and Greg Andres, the lead prosecutor in the trial of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.

According to people familiar with the special counsel’s work, Mueller has envisioned it as an investigative assignment, not necessarily a prosecutorial one, and for that reason does not plan to keep the office running to see to the end all of the indictments it has filed.

Mueller’s work has led to criminal charges against 34 people. Six Trump associates and advisers have pleaded guilty.

Among those who have pleaded guilty are Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn; former deputy campaign manger Rick Gates; and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, as well as Manafort and Cohen.

Most of the people charged in Mueller’s investigation are Russians. Because there is no extradition treaty with that country, those 26 individuals are unlikely to ever see the inside of a U.S. courtroom.

None of the Americans charged by Mueller are accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election. Determining whether any Trump associates had plotted with the Kremlin in 2016 was the central question assigned to Mueller when he got the job, in a moment of crisis for the FBI, the Justice Department and the country.

Days earlier, Trump had fired FBI Director James B. Comey. The purported reason for the dismissal was Comey’s handling of the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, but Trump said in an interview with NBC shortly after the firing that he was thinking about the Russia inquiry when he decided to fire Comey.

Because FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms to ensure their political independence, the Comey firing rattled Washington, setting off alarms not just in the Justice Department but in Congress, where lawmakers feared the president was determined to end the Russia investigation before it was completed.

In the wake of Comey’s firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein chose Mueller as special counsel in part to quell the burgeoning political crisis.

Mueller, a Vietnam War veteran, prosecutor and former FBI director, was highly regarded. Politicians on both sides of the aisle — as well as law enforcement and intelligence veterans within federal agencies — had long admired and trusted Mueller, a Republican.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and accused Mueller’s prosecutors of political bias because a number of them had made donations to Democratic candidates in the past. Some congressional Republicans who back the president have repeatedly attacked Mueller’s work as corrupted by anti-Trump bias among Comey and his senior advisers at the FBI.

When Mueller’s investigation ends, it is likely to set off a fresh political firestorm.

Democrats are already demanding a detailed public accounting of what Mueller found, beyond what is in the public indictments and trial evidence to date. Republicans, meanwhile, are poised to escalate their attacks on the special counsel’s work as a waste of time and money — and paint the end of the investigation as final proof that there was nothing to the suspicion that the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Much of Mueller’s time was spent trying to determine whether the president attempted to obstruct the investigation. Toward that end, Mueller questioned those closest to the president about his private statements about the inquiry, his public tweets that attacked law enforcement officials, and internal White House documents that might shed light on Trump’s behavior.

Months and months of negotiations over a possible interview of Trump came to little. Ultimately, Mueller and the Justice Department did not serve the president with a subpoena, which could have led to a fight at the Supreme Court, and Trump’s lawyers submitted written answers to questions from the special counsel.

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+9 # DongiC 2019-02-21 10:50
Does anyone in their right mind think the Republicans will be anything but unfair? The Republicans who tried to limit the scope of Mueller's committee and the GOP who put party above country and chose Trump to represent them in the election of 2016. Watch the Republicans try to limit the damage of Mueller's report by limiting its circulation. Better the electorate not know the evil deeds of this unsavory President than to have full knowledge and punish the ones involved with Trump and his motley crew. The GOP has become a disgrace and deserves to disappear, like the Whigs before them in the 19th century.

With Sanders at the helm, the Progressives can lead the nation and the world into a new era where we protect the environment, the citizenry, and the Constitution. Government should protect all the citizens not just a chosen few.
 
 
-6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-21 17:09
DC -- "Does anyone in their right mind think the Republicans will be anything but unfair? "


Well, Mueller, McCabe, Comey, and most of the other coup plotters are Republicans. So, yes, I'd say they will never be anything but unfair.

The whole Mueller Probe is really the Mueller Prod. Trump ran to the left of Hillary of issues of international affairs, war, and international law. He was against regime change wars, the endless wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. He wanted to bring jobs back to the US. Trump ran as a leftish populist. His only weakness was his opposition to national healthcare and his commitment to tax cuts for the rich.

So Trump needed to be Prodded to the right. This was always a inside republican party matter. Mueller was hauled out to prod Trump into being just like Bush or Reagan. Now Trump loves regime change wars, he loves military spending. He has brought back into government the most discredited of the Bush/Reagan people. Bolton and Abrams are the worst of the worse. This is all a result of Mueller's Prodding him to the right.

The Mueller Prod goes on. The report will be Mueller's final Prod, cementing Trump as a hard right wing republicans.

For us, this is probably good since Trump will be easy to beat in 2020. It was Trump move to the left of Hillary that out foxed Democrats. Hillary got caught way to the right.
 
 
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-21 14:22
It will be very interesting to see what comes out. Of course, it would be illegal to reveal any Grand Jury testimony, so all that will be redacted or just not included. And Mueller used a lot of NSA surveillance material and all that will be excluded. Mueller also used FISA surveillance material and all that will be excluded. So I don't expect that there will be much in the report in the way of "hard evidence."

I really don't know what to expect. I thought that Mueller's indictments were pretty lame. If all he's got is a claim that Stone and Credico got into pissing match or that Stone forgot a text message he sent to Corsi, then he's really got noting on interest.

I wish the report would be published in full and unredacted. We deserve it. We've had to endure Mueller's obnoxiousness for nearly two years. We deserve to see what he was mucking around in. But I'm not holding my breath.


"An adviser to President Trump said there is palpable concern among the president’s inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct."

I think this fear is definitely true. Mueller's staff was stuffed with Clinton lovers. They will take every shot they can. But I say publish it all. We need to see what this rogue cabal of coup plotters was doing and thinking.

The best plan would be if someone leaked the whole report to WikiLeaks and Assange published it in toto.
 
 
0 # chapdrum 2019-02-22 13:42
Keep in mind that Bush fought the establishment of the 9/11 Commission for months. Republicans intrinsically cannot be trusted.