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Nation, media await release of Mueller report Thursday

Updated April 17, 2019 - 4:50 pm

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is expected to release the long-awaited report submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday morning.

Journalists and political operatives have been preparing to comb through the nearly 400-page document to see if it adheres to Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of findings released in March, most notably that Mueller found no collusion between Russian actors and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and that Mueller did not conclude Trump committed obstruction of justice, but also did “not exonerate him.”

Barr already had revealed the document would contain multiple redactions — a point of contention among Democrats such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who had demanded Barr release the full, unredacted report and has said he’s prepared to subpoena the Department of Justice to obtain it.

Attorney General William Barr has maintained his department cannot release grand jury material, foreign intelligence information that might compromise U.S. surveillance, information related to open cases and probes or information that compromises “peripheral third parties” not charged. That material will be redacted under a color-coded system to stipulate under which category it is being withheld.

Max Bergmann, senior fellow with the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress, told the Review-Journal he’ll be looking to see how much material Barr redacts. He said he’ll pay particular attention to the report’s treatment of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. If the report redacts too much on Flynn’s communications with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak, Bergmann is likely to see overuse of the power to redact given that their communications have been covered extensively in the media.

“In my view, most of this stuff has been out there,” Bergmann said.

Tom Fitton of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has been calling for a new special counsel to investigate what he told One America News is “the real conspiracy” — the FBI’s decision to look into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the first place. According to Barr’s March synopsis, the Mueller team found no coordinaton.

The special counsel’s probe spanned 22 months, employed 19 lawyers assisted by approximately 40 FBI agents and issued more than 2,800 subpoenas and interview some 500 witnesses. When Mueller submitted the report, his office did not recommend further indictments or obtain any sealed indictments unknown to the public.

By the time Mueller wrapped up the probe, five former Trump advisers — Flynn, one-time Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser and Manafort consigliere Rick Gates and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos — had pleaded guilty to a laundry list of felonies, including tax fraud, bank fraud and perjury. None of the convictions against Trump associates involved coordination between the 2016 campaign and Russian actors.

One-time Trump whisperer Roger Stone is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress, engaged in witness tampering and obstructed a congressional investigation. Stone has pleaded not guilty.

In total, the Office of the Special Counsel issued 34 indictments, charging 13 Russian nationals and three Russian corporate entities for conspiring to commit an offense against the United States starting as early as 2014 when Russian co-conspirators began to travel across the United States during a political tour that stopped in Nevada.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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