The conclusion of the Mueller investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russia in the election is expected imminently. And, Mueller’s report will be governed by rules written in the wake of the Starr Report. We explain.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The Mueller investigation. Heard of it?
After a year and 10 months of suspense, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
It’s been a long time coming.
Thirty-four people have been indicted since Mueller opened his review in May 2017, including some of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers and Russian intelligence operatives. Mueller’s investigation has already revealed many details about a sophisticated effort to influence the election and a campaign trying to benefit from that work.
But what his final report will look like remains a mystery.
Here’s your guide on what to expect from the Mueller report:
What will be in the report?
Mueller’s confidential report will explain why he filed the charges he did during the investigation, and why he might have declined to bring charges against anyone else. It could be short.
Sorry, but you probably won’t see the report
After all the anticipation (and nail biting), you probably won’t get to see the Mueller report. At least for a bit.
Why? Justice Department rules require that Mueller submit a “confidential” report when his work is done. From there, his boss, Attorney General William Barr, gets to decide what happens. (Barr is the guy who will decide what the public can see, and when). The only thing Barr is required to reveal is whether Mueller’s bosses ever overruled him.
Trump has said he doesn’t have a problem with the report becoming public.
Will we ever hear from Mueller himself?
Those who know him are betting on no.
Mueller isn’t required to make public statements about his work, according to Justice Department rules, so he doesn’t need to deliver a public record of his findings.
Plus, he’s stayed quiet since he was tapped in May 2017 to head the probe, despite intense public interest and scrutiny (including from the president).
Those who know Mueller say he’s reluctant to speak publicly even when the circumstances seem to require it, so he’s unlikely to do on his own at the end of this saga.
So, will Barr make the report public?
Barr told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing in January that he wanted to be transparent, but he couldn’t commit to releasing Mueller’s report in full. Neither was he clear on whether he would permit Mueller to testify to Congress about his work, something Democratic lawmakers have hinted they might request. Some of what’s in the report could be information that’s required by law to remain secret. Instead, Barr has suggested he will prepare his own summary.
The claws are coming out
Congress wants to see Mueller’s findings and is preparing for a fight to see it.
Lawmakers from both parties — yes, both Republicans and Democrats — plan to press for access not just to the report but also to the evidence he gathered during the investigation. The demands would almost certainly set up a battle between Congress and the Justice Department.
In particular, newly powerful House Democrats are exploring ways they could force the administration to turn over findings and evidence it might prefer to keep secret.
“We expect the full report,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “If we don’t get it, we’ll do what we have to do to get it. If that means subpoenaing it, we’ll subpoena it.”
Republicans have also embraced the idea of obtaining Mueller’s conclusions. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he expects a report that will reveal no wrongdoing by Trump. The House voted 420-0 in March to insist that they get a complete copy of whatever Mueller turns in.
Will that be the end?
Mueller is just one of many potential legal problems for Trump and his inner circle. The list of investigations encircling the president seems to be growing by the day.
Both the targets and the total number of investigations is unknown, but we know various probes have examined Trump’s campaign, family, charity foundation, inaugural committee and his businesses.
In New York:
- The state attorney general subpoenaed two banks this week for financial records relating to several Trump Organization projects, the New York Times reported.
- Federal prosecutors are still investigating campaign-finance violations within Trump’s campaign even after his former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violations stemming from hush money payments to women who alleged affairs with Trump. Cohen has said he made the payments at Trump’s direction.
- Cohen said he’s been in “constant contact” with federal prosecutors in New York about other investigations, but wouldn’t elaborate.
- Trump’s inaugural committee was subpoenaed in February as part of an investigation into the group’s fundraising activities.
- State authorities in New York have been investigating Trump’s private foundation.
In Washington and Maryland:
- Attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit alleging Trump violated the Constitution’s Emolument’s clause, which bans gifts and payments from foreign governments. The case could allow officials some insight into Trump’s business dealings and potential conflicts of interests.
- Lawmakers are just getting started. The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee opened a sweeping investigation this month into Trump and his associates, requesting documents from 81 “agencies, entities, and individuals” connected to the administration and Trump’s private businesses.
- The House Oversight Committee is also examining a wide array of topics, including Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, White House efforts in a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia, whether Trump played any part in securing top-secret security clearances for members of his family and whether Trump violated the Constitution by accepting profits from foreign governments. The Committee welcomed Cohen earlier this month, then laid out an investigative road map that could include other Trump Organization employees.
- The House Intelligence Committee is expanding its own investigation of Russian election interference.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Bart Jansen and Brad Heath
After almost two years, Mueller’s Russia investigation status can be confusing. Here’s an overview of the central question, and what we know.
Hannah Gaber Saletan, USA TODAY
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