Capitol Hill is full of nervous tension as it prepares for the release of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation began back in May 2017.
The revelations come on the eve of a press conference where Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will discuss Mueller’s report. That briefing is scheduled for 9.30am ET on Thursday 18 April.
The redacted version of the report, which runs to 400 pages, will also be released on Thursday. It is not likely to be released before the press conference.
Democrats were unhappy to hear that Barr will not deliver the report to Congress until after his press conference with Rosenstein. There was already a widespread belief on that side of politics that Barr has acted as Trump’s lackey during the whole episode.
Trump has indicated he might hold his own press conference after Barr and Rosenstein have talked to the media.
Breaking News: White House and Justice Department officials discussed Robert Mueller’s findings several times ahead of his report’s release Thursday https://t.co/nNcRg7stWC
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 17, 2019
New claims that some of the White House legal team knew the contents of the Mueller report
The New York Times has reported that Justice Department and White House lawyers “have had numerous conversations” about the contents of the special counsel’s report.
The article goes on to outline “a sense of paranoia” among some of Trump’s advisors. Some fear that the report will name which of the President’s staffers spoke to Mueller and what they revealed, giving Trump “a kind of road map for retaliation”.
Some of Mueller’s team had reportedly told colleagues that Barr’s summary of the report, released on 24 March, did not accurately capture all its findings. They said the report painted Trump in a worse light than Barr’s four-page summary of the 400-page Mueller report suggested.
The Attorney General had been appointed to the role by Trump in late 2018. During his confirmation hearings, he vowed to make public as much of the report as possible. Trump had selected Barr after fuming that previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation because he had links with Russian officials.
While the top-line conclusion from Mueller’s report is that there was no evidence of Trump’s collusions with Russia during the 2016 election campaign, the report did claim some high-profile scalps. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and his former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort were both jailed from investigations stemming from Mueller’s probe.
Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and 12 staff from the Internet Research Agency were also indicted for their role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Two versions of the redacted Mueller report will be released, with one going to the public and one that will eventually go to a limited number of members of Congress with fewer redactions, the Justice Dept. said https://t.co/rVQLK3wTuc pic.twitter.com/TIsjTUNtKi
— CNN (@CNN) April 17, 2019
Some members of Congress will have access to a less censored report
Two versions of the Mueller report will be released, with one being made available to the public on Thursday and another version with less redacted material to be distributed to select members of Congress.
It is understood some of the redacted material relates to the upcoming trial of Republican consultant Roger Stone. Prosecutors were concerned releasing some of the material could prejudice the jury. Stone entered a not guilty plea to the charges and his trial is scheduled for November.
Header image credit: Max Goldberg