Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-old investigation into Russian collusion came to a screeching halt without any new charges or indictments, but the high stakes political battle over what the public and lawmakers will see of the report is just beginning.
“Attorney General Barr — release the Mueller report to the American people. Now,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted.
“Robert Mueller has done his job, now it’s time for Congress to do ours,” U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted. “That means investigating this report ourselves, and making sure that every American gets to read every word.”
But Democrats may not like what they find. If the Mueller report clears President Trump of collusion and obstruction of justice, the White House will declare victory. And Democrats are afraid Trump will get to announce that conclusion first — shaping public opinion about what’s in or not in the findings. That’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so adamant that Trump not get a “sneak peak” at the report.
Department of Justice officials reported already that there will be no additional indictments coming from Mueller, and that itself is a blow to Democrats.
That means no member of Trump’s family or any additional associates will face charges from Mueller — a huge victory for the White House.
Republicans appeared to be cautiously optimistic that no bombshells would be coming from the Mueller report and echoed calls by Democrats for transparency.
“The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”
But Democrats are determined to comb through Mueller’s report — and “all underlying documentation” — to find any shreds of evidence that Trump committed crimes or tried to collude with Russia. They plan to use Mueller’s files as a road map to launch further investigations of Trump and possibly try to start impeachment proceedings depending on what they find.
In terms of what the Mueller investigation's conclusion means and what it found, we know only the smallest little bits. This is the start of something, apparently, not the end of something. pic.twitter.com/8NYatLnQfP
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) March 23, 2019
The worst outcome for Trump would be a conclusion by Mueller that the president broke the law, or directly colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. It would be tough for the president to spin that one.
But there’s no evidence so far that Mueller did find collusion or illegalities by the president, and the fact that he won’t seek further indictments indicates the president may be in the clear.
The next step required under law is for Attorney General William Barr to give a summary of the Mueller report to Congress. But the next steps after that are far from clear and there is already a heated debate about what parts of the report to release.
Barr is under no legal obligation to release anything to the public, though he has indicated he will be a “transparent” as possible.
That’s a word that’s open to interpretation.
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