WASHINGTON (Analysis) – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in his final report on Friday evening on his investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.
Attorney General William Barr will read it and give a report to the U.S. Congress — but the big question is around how much he will choose to reveal.
In his letters to lawmakers, Barr said he was in the midst of reviewing the Mueller report and said he will provide “principle concessions as soon as this weekend”, conclusions a Justice Department official told reporters are expected to be made public.
There are many rules around how a special counsel must operate. Barr will have to weave through them all, and only specific doors can be opened as options for how to handle the document a Mueller probe security official dropped off at the Justice Department.
Regulations laid out by the General Powers of Special Counsel say that Mueller should give the attorney general a “confidential report” that explains why he charged some individuals and not others. Barr’s mandate is to inform lawmakers that he received the report, which he did Friday evening.
There is no rule that says Barr has to release a comprehensive more final document or to release the submitted Mueller investigation file. However, there is the Justice Manual to take into account which outlines policies surrounding such public disclosures.
What it all comes down to is that the Justice Department believes that there is “no legitimate government interest served” by making public information about an individual who is not facing any criminal charges.
Though federal law says that there could be exceptions, according to analysis from legal reporters, only Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have the power to make a one-off exception to include the actions of an individual not being prosecuted in the report and not redact it.
The Democrats and potentially some Republicans say that the Russia investigation is outside the norm and thus the report should be released in full, instead of a summary or briefing on the contents.
Barr made clear in his letter to Congress that he could brief them on the report as early as this weekend. However, count on Democratic uproar if all the lawmakers receive is a bullet point list.
It should be noted that both Democrats and President Donald Trump himself, who has vehemently denied collusion with Russia to get elected, have continuously called for the Mueller report to be released ahead of Friday.
Last week, with Trump’s support, the House of Representatives voted in an unanimous ballot in favour of a non-binding resolution calling for the Russia probe file to be released to the public upon completion. Currently, Trump favours the attorney general and they appear to be allies.
With Trump, Republicans and Democrats on one side, all appearing to support the full release — Trump because he believes it will vindicate him and Democrats because they say they’re in search of the truth — then who stands in the way?
Rosenstein has indicated support for a more toned down report.
(c)Breaking911 – Eli Ridder