Does it feel as if the Robert Mueller investigation into the conspiracy between the Donald Trump campaign and Moscow and Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election has been going on for an eternity? It has been continuing for nearly two years. That is about to change.
One of the new Trump-appointed Attorney General (AG) Bill Barr’s first acts was to indicate that he is preparing to announce the end of Mueller’s investigations as early as next week according to CNN. At that point, Barr will prepare a summary of Mueller’s confidential report and submit it to Congress.
It has not been clear from Barr’s nomination hearings whether he will give the entire redacted document to Congress or if the legislative body would be able to request an unredacted copy. Thus far, the House has indicated that it wants to release Mueller’s report to the public.
Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe made new claims overnight about President Trump, Russia and the Mueller investigation, saying he thinks “it’s possible” when asked if he thinks Trump could still be a Russian asset. pic.twitter.com/AOLjluAFAs
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 20, 2019
Barr has told lawmakers that he wants to be as “transparent” as possible with both the public and Congress “consistent with the rules and the law.”
The special counsel must follow established regulations. When, he has completed his investigation, Mueller will give Barr a “confidential” report. The rules, however, do not say that the attorney general must share it with Congress. It is up to the lawmakers whether they make the report public.
The AG had stated the Department of Justice (DOJ) tries to keep “derogatory” data about individuals who have not been charged private.
If the congressional committees are dissatisfied with Barr’s summary, they do have the option of asking Mueller to testify publicly before them. According to CNN:
‘The regulations require Mueller to explain in his report all decisions to prosecute or not prosecute matters under scrutiny. Barr would also need to inform Congress if the Justice Department prevented the special counsel team from pursuing any investigative steps.’
Mueller’s team of investigators heavily redacted its recent court filings, which are public. These include Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. The redactions protected the pending investigations and individuals who have not been charged.
Although, Mueller’s probe may soon conclude, there are still cases pending in the New York Southern District (NYSD) and Washington, D.C. courts.
For three days last week, employees in the special counsel’s office have been taking boxes of files out of their office. This was unusual and might mean further hand-offs.
There are some other indicators that may foretell the end of Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel’s grand jury has not convened since the end of January. Mueller used it to indict both the president’s long-time friend and adviser, Roger Stone, and Manafort.
Before the government shutdown, four of Mueller’s 17 prosecutors left, and most went back to their jobs within the DOJ. However, the special counsel’s remaining team have not even taken snow days.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.