Special Counsel Robert Mueller has handed in his report to Attorney General Bill Barr, ending 675 days of probing of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any participation by members of President Donald Trump’s campaign or transition team.
It’s a huge moment for the White House, the investigation having hung over Trump since he took office. Trump, who camp had been expecting the report any day, got out of town, and was in Mar-a-Lago for the weekend when Barr announced Mueller had turned it in. This time, however, Trump took his legal team with him to his Florida resort.
Trump has called it a “Witch Hunt” – 175 times on Twitter, according to media outlets that have staff to count such things, and hundreds of times more
Fox News Risks Wrath Of Donald Trump, Keeping Jeanine Pirro Off Another Week After Racist On-Air Remark
in person. TV news outlets have called it a ratings motherlode.”
Trump set in motion Mueller’s appointment to conduct his investigation when he fired FBI Director James Comey and told NBC News’ Lester Holt on-camera that he did so because Comey’s “Russian thing, with Trump and Russia, is a made-up story.investigation, was a hoax.”
Friday afternoon, Holt was among the broadcast TV anchors to interrupt their network’s programming to report the news to viewers:
NBC News has learned the long awaited Mueller report has just been submitted to the attorney general of the United States. Perhaps the most highly anticipated and potentially explosive document in recent American history now in the hands of the Justice Department head.
In the nearly two-year, widely televised drama, there have been 37 defendants, including six Trump associates who have been charged with crimes. Five people have been sentenced to prison and 16 Trump associates have been shown to have had contact with Russians during the campaign and the transition. With submission of the report, there will be no more indictments from Mueller. That’s great news for Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and others, though that does not necessarily mean that there will not be more indictments in the storylines of the Mueller probe spinoffs, in New York, Virginia and D.C. courts.
TV news outlets will have to wait a while, however, to learn if there is any evidence of collusion between Trump’s camp and the Russians in election meddling, and whether Trump himself was aware of the rannygazoo.
Mueller having turned in his report, Barr notified the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. In his letter to the chairs of those committees, Barr said Mueller had concluded his investigation or Russian interference into the 2016 election and related matters.
Barr will explain to them any instances in which DOJ has overruled Mueller. In his letter, Barr told the committee chairs there was “no such instance.”
Barr will make a version of the report and give that, not Mueller’s report, to Congress. Barr, in his letter, said he would go over with them the report’s “principal conclusions” as soon as this weekend.
Portions of that summary will be shared with the White House for possible executive privilege issues. Trump has made it clear the White House believes it should get to review the entire summary to assert privilege as it sees fit.
Barr will share some version of the findings with Congress and the public. He has not committed to making the report public. Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, want to see entire report, but the House voted unanimously that the entire report should be made public.
“The Special Counsel will be concluding his service in the coming days,” a spokesman for Mueller’s office announced Friday evening, adding, “A small number of staff will remain to assist in closing the operations of the office for a period of time.”
TV news outlets had been on high alert the past few days, staking out Mueller’s office for TMZ-like sightings of the special counsel driving up in a baseball cap; much was read into his having not gone out to lunch on Thursday. Sightings of Mueller staffers exiting with boxes had hearts beating faster, and reporters began to foam over when Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein announced he was not stepping down shortly, as originally announced, but would stick around a while longer. Washington sources reported he was doing so to provide a heat shield between newly appointed AG Barr and mercurial Trump.
White House’s first reaction, via Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
Hours before learning the special counsel’s investigation had wrapped, a clearly nervous Trump spent Friday morning in comfort of Fox News, asking Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo who the heck elected Mueller that he gets to write a report on Trump. It’s worth a full read:
“A deputy, that didn’t get any votes, appoints a man, that didn’t get any votes, he’s going to write a report on me?”
“I had one of the greatest election victories in history. Would you say that’s true? They came from the valleys, they came from the rivers, they came from the cities, they came from all over, they voted in one of the greatest elections in the history of our country!”
“And now, I have a man, because we have an attorney general [Sessions] who — nobody can even believe he didn’t tell me, but he recused himself.”
“So, I have a man who is a deputy, who I don’t know, who I didn’t know at all. And he appoints a man who had just left my office, I didn’t give [Mueller] the job at the FBI. [James] Comey’s his best friend, but listen, you know it better than anybody, you’ve been very fair in this. But listen, I have a deputy, appoints a man to write a report on me, to make a determination on my presidency?”
“People will not stand for it,” Trump said, dog-whistling his base.
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