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April 15, 2019, 3:53 PM GMT
By Julia Ainsley and Dartunorro Clark
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on the Russia investigation and President Donald Trump is expected to be made public Thursday morning, the Justice Department said Monday.
Washington has been waiting for the release of the report, which has put Attorney General William Barr at loggerheads with congressional Democrats who have demanded the entire, unredacted document since Mueller recently concluded his nearly two-year investigation.
Six House Democratic committee chairs sent a letter to Barr last month requesting that he submit the full report be delivered to Congress by April 2. Barr missed that deadline.
Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress last month summarizing Mueller’s report that said the special counsel found no proof that Trump or anyone associated with his campaign criminally colluded with Russia. Barr also said Mueller reached no conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice, but did not exonerate the president.
April 15, 201902:25
“(W)hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the special counsel said in his report, according to Barr’s letter.
Barr said Mueller declined “to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” leaving it up to the attorney general to choose whether to pursue obstruction charges against the president. Barr stated that he and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein both concluded, without consulting Mueller, that based on the special counsel’s findings Trump would not face an obstruction of justice charges for allegedly attempting to impede the investigation.
Trump, meanwhile, has said Mueller’s report represents a total exoneration.
NBC News previously reported that some members Mueller’s team have expressed frustration that Barr cleared Trump of obstruction of justice, and they believe the evidence that Trump sought to thwart the investigation is stronger than Barr suggested, according to a U.S. official who has spoken with the members.
Justice Department officials previously said Barr had no choice but to render judgment because the special counsel regulations placed him in charge of the investigation. If Mueller believed Trump was guilty of obstruction, he could have said so, the officials argued — but he didn’t do that in his report.
The DOJ policy that states a sitting president can’t be charged with a crime wasn’t a factor in the dispute between members of Mueller’s team, according to one senior U.S. official, NBC News previously reported.
Rather, the special counsel’s team differed about whether they could show that Trump had criminal intent as he took various actions that seemed designed to shut down the investigation, from firing former FBI director James Comey to ordering Mueller’s dismissal, only to stand down when his White House counsel threatened to quit, according to The New York Times. NBC News has not confirmed that report.
The official who has spoken to members of Mueller’s team said they described the evidence on obstruction as compelling and said it includes more information than has been made public.
Some within the office of the special counsel said their purpose was to leave the legal question open for Congress and the public to examine the evidence, the U.S. official who has spoken to them said. It is not clear how Mueller feels about the matter.
Rudy Giuliani, one of the president’s personal attorneys, slammed Mueller’s team in a Fox News appearance earlier this month.
“They’re a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers,” Giuliani said. “And they are rabid Democrats who hate the president of the United States, and I can’t tell you how much false information they leaked during the course of the investigation.”