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Mueller Report Day: Here's What To Expect

Later today the public will finally get their hands on the long-awaited Mueller report - albeit with color-coded redactions to identify the multiple reasons that certain information from the almost 400-page report can't be shared with Congress or the public. 

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Washington to discuss the release, while the report will be delivered to Congress via compact disc between 11 a.m. and noon according to Bloomberg

Democratic leaders blasted Barr's decision to brief the White House before the release of the report - with five House chairmen releasing a joint statement demanding that Barr cancel the press conference and "let the full report speak for itself." According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mueller's testimony in front of Congress "as soon as possible" is the only way to restore public trust after what they called Barr's "regrettably partisan handling" of the report. 

"This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it," reads the letter. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who signed the letter, also chimed in on the way the Mueller report is being released

I’m deeply troubled by reports that the WH is being briefed on the Mueller report AHEAD of its release. Now, DOJ is informing us we will not receive the report until around 11/12 tomorrow afternoon — AFTER Barr’s press conference. This is wrong.

https://t.co/bR50HhGJ0i

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler)

In a taste of the bickering in store, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) mocked Nadler, tweeting that he's "deeply troubled" by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants."

I’m “deeply troubled” by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants. I’m “deeply troubled” by how the justice system was weaponized attempting a takedown of Donald Trump. https://t.co/kZHb3y5Tgn

— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin)

The Report

Mueller's massive investigation saw more than 2,800 subpoenas issued, nearly 500 search warrants, and around the same number of witness interviews, according to Barr. Also included by Mueller was a series of exhibits, however it's unclear if that will be released.  

Some members of Congress will be allowed to view a copy of Mueller's report "without certain redactions," according to a Wednesday filing by federal prosecutors. 

"Once the redacted version of the report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff a copy of the Special Counsel’s report without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case," they wrote in the filing. 

According to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, the Mueller report will answer a key complaints Democrats have had since Barr released a four-page summary of the report; why did Mueller decline to make a decision on whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice - something he spent months investigating?

The special counsel found there was evidence “on both sides of the question” of whether Trump obstructed justice and that his probe didn’t “exonerate” the president, according to a four-page summarythat Barr released last month.

Nonetheless, Barr and Rosenstein concluded that the evidence on obstruction didn’t warrant a criminal charge after Mueller submitted his final report. -Bloomberg

The Mueller report won't be a comprehensive narrative that "tries to reconstruct all the events of the 2016 campaign," notes Bloomberg.

Justice Department regulations say that Mueller should explain in a report to the attorney general the decisions that he made on who to prosecute, and he can choose to discuss additional relevant findings.

Barr is going beyond what’s required under Justice Department regulations by sharing any of the report. The regulations require only that he inform Congress if the special counsel was prevented from taking a significant action. Barr has said there was no such situation. -Bloomberg

What to look for

For starters, it will be interesting to note whether Mueller actually investigated the genesis of the FBI's decision to launch their counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign, as well as the history and use of the controversial and largely unverified "Steele Dossier" used to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

Some have suggested that FBI's investigation was a setup from the beginning. Recall that Hillary Clinton's campaign paid an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS - who paid a former UK spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a bogus dossier using Kremlin sources, which was then used against Trump both at the federal level and in court of public opinion.

Also recall that Maltese professor (and self-admitted Clinton foundation member) Joseph Mifsud seeded Trump aide George Papadopoulos with the rumor that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. 

Papadopoulos would later drunkenly pass this information to Australian diplomat (and Clinton ally) Alexander Downer, whose report reached the FBI and launched operation crossfire hurricane

The FBI would then employ at least one spy to "infiltrate" (spy on) the Trump campaign. 

Also of interest will be clues as to why Barr and Rosenstein didn't establish that Trump or his campaign did not obstruct the investigation. 

That said, Democrats are hoping that the report might reveal evidence of Trump-Russia collusion that simply didn't rise to the level of charging anyone with a criminal conspiracy. 

The report also might reveal who on the campaign directed long-time Trump associate Roger Stone to communicate with WikiLeaks about releasing information damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the weeks before the election.

It could also shed light on the relationship between Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who Mueller prosecuted, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik was indicted last year on conspiracy to obstruct justice. -Bloomberg

Redactions

Barr and Mueller have worked together over the last several weeks to redact key portions of the report - and have used color-coded labels to indicate why various things can't be seen by Congress or the public. These include grand jury proceedings, classified programs and ongoing investigations - as well as things that could damage the reputations of individuals who were "peripheral" to the investigation

Barr says he won't withhold damaging information about public officials, however - including Trump - simply to protect their reputations. 

The attorney general also could withhold details of internal White House deliberations, citing executive privilege. He told lawmakers on April 9 that he decided not to seek Trump’s input and had “no plans” to assert the privilege traditionally asserted by presidents who say they need to be able to have private conversations.

That type of information could reveal Trump’s conversations before he fired FBI director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as attempts the president made to fire other top Justice Department officials. -Bloomberg

"A heavily redacted report should not be acceptable to anyone, especially if the report was redacted to protect the president or his associates," said former New York federal prosecutor Harry Sandick, currently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. 

Prosecutors gave some clue as to what's going on with the redactions - which are also intended to protect the privacy of uncharged third parties and investigations on "a number of matters" which Mueller has passed along to other prosecutors

"It is unknown how long some of these investigations may remain ongoing," said Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Kravis. "And some of the privacy interests that are being protected may persist indefinitely."

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