Mueller’s Report Includes Summaries Not Ready for Release, Sources Say
(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team produced summaries of core investigative findings but didn’t submit the documents to the Justice Department’s leadership in a way that could allow for their quick release to Congress and the public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The summaries were included as part of an overall confidential report that Mueller submitted to Attorney General William Barr last month, ending his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates conspired in the election meddling effort.
News reports have raised questions about whether Barr could have easily released the summaries, rather than issue his own short, four-page description of Mueller’s principal conclusions on March 24.
Two people familiar with the matter said the summaries in Mueller’s report had markings indicating that some parts had to be reviewed and withheld, potentially including information related to grand jury proceedings.
According to Barr, the Mueller report didn’t establish that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia but was less decisive on obstruction -- citing “difficult issues” of fact and law. Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” the president on that point, Barr wrote.
In his letter, Barr went beyond Mueller’s findings, saying that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reached their own conclusion that the evidence didn’t back a finding of obstruction. That generated accusations that Barr is helping shield Trump from the harshest conclusions of the probe.
House Democrats voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena demanding that Barr turn over the full report and all the evidence behind it, potentially touching off a legal clash that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
In addition, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Thursday requested that Barr publicly release the summaries.
"If these recent reports are accurate and the Special Counsel’s office prepared summaries ’in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary,’ then those summaries should be publicly released as soon as possible,” Nadler wrote in a letter to Barr.
The Justice Department on Thursday defended its handling of the report.
"Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the attorney general decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately -- without attempting to summarize the report -- with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
Barr is working with Mueller and others to issue a redacted version of Mueller’s report, which is nearly 400 pages, as early as next week.
"The department continues to work with the special counsel on appropriate redactions to the report so that it can be released to Congress and the public," Kupec said.
One person with knowledge of the investigation said some officials were also taken aback by Barr’s short description of Mueller’s findings. There’s now concern about how much of Mueller’s investigative work Barr will release and allow to speak for itself, including material damaging to Trump, the person said.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday about concerns some members of Mueller’s team have with the way Barr has handled the report and the summaries.
Mueller was never given a directive to create a report that could be made public, and there’s no such requirement under the guidelines creating his position as a special counsel, according to the U.S. official.
Trump on Thursday attacked Democrats for continuing to investigate him.
“According to polling, few people seem to care about the Russian Collusion Hoax, but some Democrats are fighting hard to keep the Witch Hunt alive,” Trump tweeted. “They should focus on legislation or, even better, an investigation of how the ridiculous Collusion Delusion got started - so illegal!”
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