Trump braces for release of redacted Mueller report
The president isn’t waiting. As Washington counts down the final hours until publication of the redacted special counsel report – now expected Thursday – Donald Trump and his legal team stepped up their attacks in an effort to undermine potential disclosures on Russia, his 2016 campaign and the aftermath.
On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani, one of the president’s attorneys, said that the president’s legal team was putting the finishing touches on a rebuttal. Their document will be dozens of pages long and it will be released just hours after the Justice Department releases its redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Giuliani said.
Trump unleashed a series of tweets Monday focusing on the previously released summary of Mueller’s conclusions – including a crucial one on obstruction of justice that Trump again misrepresented – produced by Attorney General William Barr.
“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!”
Press secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly tried to make the same case on TV talk shows on Sunday. But the political battle is far from finished over the special counsel’s investigation of Russian efforts to help Trump in 2016 and whether there was cooperation with his campaign.
Democrats are calling for Mueller himself to testify before Congress and have expressed concern that Barr will order unnecessary censoring of the report to protect the president. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, is poised to try to compel Barr to turn over an unredacted copy as well as the report’s underlying investigative files.
Trump and his allies continue to attack the origins of the Russia investigation, portraying it as an effort by Democrats and career officials in the Justice Department to bring him down.
“Any aspect of that report, I hope it does come out because there was no collusion, whatsoever, no collusion,” Trump told Minneapolis TV station KSTP while there on Monday. “It was a big con job and everybody knows it. …The crime was committed by the other side.”
The Justice Department announced Monday that it expects to release the redacted version Thursday morning, sending the findings of the nearly two-year
probe to Congress and making them available to the public.
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.
A look at what types of material Barr is redacting: Grand jury information: Barr has staked out his position on releasing secret grand jury information, saying last week that he would not go to court to request its release. He said Democrats are “free to go to court” themselves.
Classified information: Congress frequently receives classified documents and briefings, and Democrats say there is no reason the Mueller report should be any different.
Many Republicans agree, including the top Republican on the intelligence committee, California Rep. Devin Nunes, who wrote a rare joint letter in March with House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff asking for “all materials, regardless of form or classification.” In the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, Schiff and Nunes also asked for a private briefing from Mueller and his team.
Ongoing investigations: Barr said he will redact information related to investigations connected to the Mueller probe that are still underway. Those include cases handed off or referred to federal prosecutors in Washington, New York and Virginia. Derogatory information: The Justice Department regularly redacts information about people who were interviewed or scrutinized in investigations but not charged. Barr has said he will black out information from the report “that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at a hearing last week if that meant he would redact information to protect the interests of Trump, Barr said it did not. “No, I’m talking about people in private life, not public officeholders,” Barr said.
That means that in addition to Trump, members of his family who work at the White House could potentially be named if they were somehow entangled in Mueller’s investigation. But any information regarding his sons who run his businesses could be more likely to be redacted.