Attorney General William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Va., on Thursday morning, April 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

After 2 years of waiting, Americans will see Mueller report

Report may cast an unflattering light on Trump’s actions with Russia, even if it doesn’t legally implicate the president

After nearly two years of waiting, America is about to get some answers straight from Robert Mueller— but not before President Donald Trump’s attorney general has his say.

The Justice Department on Thursday is expected to release a redacted version of the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, opening up months, if not years, of fights over what the document means in a deeply divided country.

Even the planned release of the nearly 400-page report quickly spiraled into a political battle Wednesday over whether Attorney General William Barr is attempting to shield the president who appointed him and spin the report’s findings before the American people can read it and come to their own judgments.

Barr scheduled a 9:30 a.m. news conference to discuss the report before providing redacted copies to Congress and the public. The news conference, first announced by Trump during a radio interview, provoked immediate criticism from congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Barr had “thrown out his credibility” and “the DOJ’s independence.” And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The process is poisoned before the report is even released.”

“Barr shouldn’t be spinning the report at all, but it’s doubly outrageous he’s doing it before America is given a chance to read it,” Schumer said.

Hours before Barr’s press conference, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint statement calling for Mueller to appear before Congress “as soon as possible.”

Trump himself was in a high state of alert ahead of the report’s release. He repeated what has become a near daily refrain of criticism of the Russia investigation using his favoured Twitter account. “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” he wrote.

READ MORE: Trump keeps attacking as redacted Russia report due Thursday

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr would address the department’s interactions with the White House over Mueller’s report, whether executive privilege was invoked and the process Barr used to black out portions of the document.

He was to be accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017. Mueller and team will not attend, special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said.

After the news conference, the report was to be delivered to Congress on compact discs between 11 a.m. and noon and then posted on the special counsel’s website.

Barr formulated the report’s roll-out and briefed the White House on his plans, according to a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The White House declined to comment on an ABC News report that it had been briefed on the contents of Mueller’s report beyond what Barr has made public.

At a later date, the Justice Department also plans to provide a “limited number” of members of Congress and their staff access to a copy of the Mueller report with fewer redactions than the public version, according to a court filing.

The report was expected to reveal what Mueller uncovered about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that fell short of criminal conduct. It was also to lay out the special counsel’s conclusions about formative episodes in Trump’s presidency, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his efforts to undermine the Russia investigation publicly and privately.

The report was not expected to place the president in legal jeopardy, as Barr made the decision that Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted for obstruction of justice. But it is likely to contain unflattering details about the president’s efforts to control the Russia investigation that will cloud his ability to credibly claim total exoneration. And it may paint the Trump campaign as eager to exploit Russian aid and emails stolen from Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign even if no Americans crossed the line into criminal activity.

The report’s release provides a test of Barr’s credibility as the public and Congress judge whether he is using his post to protect Trump.

Barr will also face scrutiny over how much of the report he blacks out and whether Mueller’s document lines up with a letter the attorney general released last month. The letter said Mueller didn’t find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government but he found evidence on “both sides” of the question of whether the president obstructed justice.

Barr has said he is redacting grand jury and classified information as well as portions relating to ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged “peripheral” people. But how liberally he interprets those categories is yet to be seen.

Democrats have vowed to fight in court for the disclosure of the additional information from the report and say they have subpoenas ready to go if it is heavily redacted.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., joined the chairs of four other House committees in calling for Barr to cancel his news conference. But Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, defended Barr and accused Democrats of “trying to spin the report.”

Collins said Barr has done “nothing unilaterally,” saying he had worked with Rosenstein and Mueller’s team “step by step.”

Mueller is known to have investigated multiple efforts by the president over the last two years to influence the Russia probe or shape public perception of it.

In addition to Comey’s firing, Mueller scrutinized the president’s request of Comey to end an investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser, his relentless badgering of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation and his role in drafting an incomplete explanation about a meeting his oldest son took at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

Overall, Mueller brought charges against 34 people — including six Trump aides and advisers — and revealed a sophisticated, wide-ranging Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Twenty-five of those charged were against Russians accused either in the hacking of Democratic email accounts or of a hidden but powerful social media effort to spread disinformation online.

Five former Trump aides or advisers pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate in Mueller’s investigation, among them Trump’s campaign chairman, national security adviser and personal lawyer.

READ MORE: Trump says Boeing should fix, then re-brand Max 8 jets

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Lisa Mascaro and Zeke Miller in Washington and Jonathan Lemire and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.

___

Chad Day, Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Yettis Junior B champions

The Yettis beat the Sherwood Park Titans to claim the provincial title Sunday

Sylvan Lake’s Accelerated Revolution Show and Shine raises more than $5,000

The annual show and shine is a Central Alberta fundraiser for the Strollery Children’s Hospital

Sylvan Lake replaces Jaws for even bigger shark at Jaws at the Lake Series

“The Meg” will play during this year’s event on Aug. 4 with a start time planned for 9 p.m.

Eckville area author gets publishing debut

Barbie Band-Aid by Lillian White is a collection of short stories about being an oil field medic

B.C. journalist named PPC candidate for Red Deer-Lacombe

Laura-Lynn Thompson is running against Blaine Calkins in the federal election this October

VIDEO: Calgary, Flames agree to terms on new NHL arena

The proposed 19,000-seat facility would replace the Saddledome at an estimated cost of $550 million

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Alberta ahead of average tornado count at 17 so far this year

The province’s average over the past 30 years has been 12 tornadoes per year

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read