Mueller completed an extensive investigation on Friday related to alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russian actors without announcing any new new charges.
By Associated Press
Special counsel Robert Mueller closed his long and contentious Russia investigation with no new charges Friday, officially ending the probe into President Donald Trump but launching a fresh wave of political battles over the still-confidential findings.
The report’s details remained a mystery, accessible to only a handful of Justice Department officials while Attorney General William Barr prepared to release the “principal conclusions” soon.
The closure of the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump’s orbit.
The Justice Department said the report was delivered by a security officer Friday afternoon to the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and then it went to Barr.
Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.
The next step is up to Barr, who is charged with writing his own account of Mueller’s findings and sending it to Congress. In a letter to lawmakers, he declared he was committed to transparency and speed. He said he could provide details as soon as this weekend.
The White House sought to keep some distance from the report, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the document.
With no details released at this point, it’s not known whether Mueller’s report answers the core questions of his investigation related to Trump’s alleged dealings with the Kremlin surrounding the 2016 presidential election.
The delivery of the report does mean the investigation has concluded without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia, or of obstruction by the president. A Justice Department official confirmed that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments.
That person, who described the document as “comprehensive,” was not authorized to discuss the probe and asked for anonymity.
That’s good news for Trump associates and family members such as Donald Trump Jr., who had an alleged role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 election campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller’s prosecutors.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mueller might have referred additional investigations to the Justice Department.
All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies.
Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet. Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
Trump was never interviewed in person, but submitted answers to questions in writing.
The mere delivery of the confidential findings set off demands from Democrats for full release of Mueller’s report and the supporting evidence collected during the sweeping probe.
It was not clear whether Trump would have early access to Mueller’s findings, but Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told The Associated Press Friday that the legal team would seek to get “an early look” before they were made public.
Giuliani said it was “appropriate” for the White House to be able “to review matters of executive privilege.” He said had received no assurances from the Department of Justice on that front.
He later stated the decision was “up to DOJ and we are confident it will be handled properly.”