WASHINGTON – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday handed in to the Justice Department a highly-awaited report on his investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election and potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump, with both his Republican Party and the Democrats calling for the findings to be published with speed.
Mueller handed over the completed report to the top U.S. law enforcement official, Attorney General William Barr, the department said. None of the details from its pages are known, including whether any criminal conduct was found beyond the charges already laid against campaign aides.
Mueller did not recommend any further indictments, a Justice Department official said. Any further prosecution would come from the Southern District of New York as the special counsel’s office winds down.
Barr said that he may send Congress a summary of the findings by “the weekend”. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said soon after the story broke that the next steps are up to the attorney general, and that she looks forward to “the process taking its course”.
“The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report,” Sanders added in her statement.
Lawyers for Trump want an early look at the findings before they are made public, the president’s key attorney Rudy Giuliani said, but revealed they have not received any assurances that they will get the access.
Democrats have already started to call for the probe to be made public in full.
A joint statement from House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that “it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress, saying that the attorney general should not give the White House a “sneak peek” of the report.
“The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, told CNN that his panel is willing to subpoena Mueller to get a clearer picture of the final report’s contents.
Russia has denied election interference and Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Earlier on Friday, Trump continued his efforts to undermine the Mueller report on Fox Business, saying that “people will not stand for it”. The president has not made any statement since the report was delivered around 5 p.m. on Friday.
The Russia probe has severally impacted the Trump presidency, making headlines often as actors close to the president were ensnared in charges that stemmed from Mueller’s work, though the charges were not necessarily collusion-related.
Ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and national security Michael Flynn have all either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges that have been brought against them by Mueller. More than 30 others have been charged as part of the probe.
These cases will likely be taken over by the Justice Department and continued by prosecutors from the agency.
At-large is the answer to the question of whether the report contains allegations of criminal wrongdoing by the president himself, currently unknown.
It was opened in 2017 by ex-Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein General after the self-recusal of the then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions from investigating allegations from the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Trump.
The White House was reportedly made aware about 20 minutes before the report was delivered.
As of Friday evening, there are 10 remaining prosecutors in the special counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. — six from the Justice Department and four from private practice, spokesman Peter Carr said.
Trump himself is in Palm Beach, Florida where a Republican Party dinner was scheduled take place at the Mar-a-Lago Resort, where the president is a frequent visitor. Several reports indicate that the usually more relaxed presence of staffers around Trump in Florida has been increasing as advisors flock to his side.
Legality Outside the Mueller Report
Robert Mueller’s report coming to an end without any further indictments does not mark the end of legal woes for the president of the United States. Further probes and cases are continuing around his businesses, finances, personal conduct, charitable foundation and inaugural committee.
These probes are pursued by prosecutors at the federal and state levels and could result in charges beyond those brought forward as a result of the Mueller initiative. Tradition by the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be hit with criminal charges, even if wrongdoing were found.
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