Mueller re­port ex­pected Thurs­day

Redacted ver­sion of spe­cial coun­cil find­ings to be made pub­lic

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - ByMichael Bal­samo and Jonathan Lemire

WASHINGTON » The Jus­tice De­part­ment ex­pects to make a redacted ver­sion of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s re­port on the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­lic Thurs­day morn­ing, a spokes­woman said Mon­day.

The redacted re­port would be sent to Congress and also made avail­able to the pub­lic, spokes­woman Kerri Ku­pec said.

As Washington counted down un­til the re­lease, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stepped up his at­tacks in an eleventh-hour ef­fort to un­der­mine the re­port’s find­ings.

Trump un­leashed a se­ries of tweets on Mon­day — in­clud­ing two just min­utes af­ter the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s an­nounce­ment — fo­cus­ing on the fa­vor­able toplines in the pre­vi­ously re­leased sum­mary pro­duced by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr.

Mueller of­fi­cially con­cluded his in­ves­ti­ga­tion late last month and sub­mit­ted the con­fi­den­tial re­port to Barr. Two days later, the at­tor­ney gen­eral sent Congress a four-page let­ter that de­tailed Mueller’s “prin­ci­pal con­clu­sions.”

In his let­ter, Barr said the spe­cial coun­sel did not find a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy be­tween Rus­sia and Trump as­so­ciates dur­ing the cam­paign, but Mueller did not reach a de­fin­i­tive con­clu­sion on whether Trump ob­structed jus­tice. In­stead, Mueller pre­sented ev­i­dence on both sides of the ob­struc­tion ques­tion. Barr said he did not be­lieve the ev­i­dence was suf­fi­cient to prove that Trump had ob­structed jus­tice.

“Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller find­ings (and great in­tel­li­gence), have al­ready ruled No Col­lu­sion, No Ob­struc­tion,” Trump tweeted. “These were crimes com­mit­ted by Crooked Hil­lary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and oth­ers! IN­VES­TI­GATE THE IN­VES­TI­GA­TORS!”

In his let­ter, Barr noted that Mueller’s team did not ex­on­er­ate the pres­i­dent of ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

Democrats im­me­di­ately called for Mueller to tes­tify and for his re­port to be re­leased. Por­tions of the re­port be­ing re­leased by the Jus­tice De­part­ment will be redacted to pro­tect grand jury ma­te­rial, sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence, mat­ters that could af­fect on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and dam­age to the pri­vacy rights of third par­ties, the at­tor­ney gen­eral has said.

Trump and his al­lies are also at­tack­ing the ori­gins of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, por­tray­ing it as an ef­fort by Democrats and ca­reer of­fi­cials in the Jus­tice De­part­ment who wanted to bring down a pres­i­dent.

“The Mueller Re­port, which 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. That is, never for­get, the crime.” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s long- as­serted ac­cu­sa­tion — though not sup­ported by ev­i­dence — that his cam­paign was spied upon was given new life last week when Barr, tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore Congress, said he thinks “spy­ing did oc­cur” in 2016.

Barr may have been re­fer­ring to a sur­veil­lance war­rant the FBI ob­tained in the fall of 2016 to mon­i­tor the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of for­mer Trump cam­paign aide Carter Page, who has not been charged with any wrong­do­ing. The war­rant was ob­tained af­ter Page had left the cam­paign and was re­newed sev­eral times. Crit­ics of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion have seized on the fact that the war­rant ap­pli­ca­tion cited Demo­cratic-funded op­po­si­tion re­search, done by a for­mer Bri­tish spy, into the Trump cam­paign’s ties to Rus­sia.

Barr later soft­ened his tone, adding “I am not say­ing im­proper sur­veil­lance oc­curred.”

The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s com­ments have frus­trated Democrats, al­ready anxious for the re­lease of the full, un­cen­sored re­port and con­cerned that Barr may withhold per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion. The re­port could pro­vide new in­for­ma­tion that could prompt fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions or even con­sid­er­a­tion of im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, a tricky po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion since Mueller did not con­clude there was col­lu­sion or ob­struc­tion.

The scores of out­stand­ing ques­tions about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has not stopped the pres­i­dent’s al­lies from declar­ing vic­tory.

The Rus­sia probe be­gan on July 31, 2016, when the FBI opened a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s ef­forts to in­flu­ence the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the ques­tion of whether any­one on the Trump cam­paign was in­volved. That probe was prompted by for­mer Trump cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­viser Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los’ con­tacts with Rus­sian in­ter­me­di­aries, in­clud­ing a Mal­tese pro­fes­sor who told the young aide that the Rus­sians had dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton in the form of emails.

JOSE LUIS MAGANA

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr leaves his home in McLean, Va., on Mon­day, April 15, 2019. Barr told Congress last week he ex­pects to re­lease his redacted ver­sion of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port “within a week.”

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