Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Friday submitted to the Justice Department the long-awaited final report on his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
No more indictments are expected in the investigation, a senior DOJ official told reporters.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged Barr to make the report public as soon as possible.
“Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Friday.
“The Special Counsel’s report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice,” he said.
The top Republican on the House Judiciary panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, echoed that sentiment.
“I fully expect the Justice Department to release the special counsel’s report to this committee and to the public without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law,” he said in a statement.
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Mueller’s submission marks the end of a probe that has dogged President Donald Trump for nearly his entire term up to this point, though a new battle is set to commence over how — or if — Congress and the public will get a chance to see what’s in it.
The White House has not yet been briefed on the special counsel’s report, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Friday evening.
The White House counsel’s office has indicated it expects to review the report before Attorney General William P. Barr decides how he wants to convey the report to Congress.
“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” Sanders tweeted.
The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) March 22, 2019
Barr was noncommittal in his confirmation hearing earlier this year about whether he would allow Mueller to testify before Congress and whether he would resist a congressional subpoena for the special counsel’s report.
Per internal DOJ regulations written in 1999, Barr must present Congress with a summary of the special counsel’s work. But the attorney general has great authority to decide how much detail he shares in that summary.
House Democrats, who control the chamber, have said they will subpoena the report if Barr tries to conceal its contents. The House GOP joined Democrats in March to vote in favor of a nonbinding resolution demanding that the Justice Department hand over the full Mueller report.
“If necessary, our committee will subpoena the report. If necessary, we’ll get Mueller to testify,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said earlier this year.
Nadler’s committee has jurisdiction over DOJ matters. The New York Democrat will be keen to see what Mueller discovered over the course of his probe and if there are any unresolved investigatory leads for lawmakers to chase down — especially ones that involve Trump.
The Justice Department has adopted the policy that a president cannot be indicted while in office, according to an internal memorandum from 1973 issued during the height of the Watergate controversy involving a criminal conspiracy orchestrated by President Richard Nixon.
But the DOJ also has a policy of not disclosing information about people in its investigations who have not been charged with crimes.
Nadler and five other committee chairs wrote to Barr in February, arguing that in light of the inherent tension between those two policies, Congress might be the only institution that can hold Trump accountable for any misconduct by the president Mueller may outline in his report.
“To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the President will not be charged, is to convert Department policy into the means for a cover-up,” the Democratic chairs wrote. “The President is not above the law.”
Trump himself has said he believes the report should be made public, though he called the probe itself “ridiculous” and has continually sought to undermine Mueller’s legitimacy and objectivity.
“Let it come out, let people see it,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “Let’s see whether or not it’s legit.”
After begrudgingly complying with and remaining mostly low-key about the probe during its first eight months, Trump and his White House press shop went on the attack in the late winter of 2018, dismissing the investigation as a “witch hunt” run by politically biased investigators.
That so-called witch hunt has produced indictments or guilty pleas from three companies and 34 individuals, including six former advisers on Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, have already been sentenced to multiple years in prison.
In congressional testimony in February, Cohen accused the president’s adult children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — of multiple crimes, including helping the president illegally buy the silence of two of his former mistresses in order to help his 2016 campaign.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are believed to be investigating that alleged hush payment scheme as part of a broader probe into the president’s personal finances and real estate empire in New York and around the world, according to court documents unsealed there recently.
Democrats from the House committees with broad oversight and investigatory authority over the president and his administration have suggested that Mueller’s report is not the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning for Trump’s potential legal scrutiny.
House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings has launched a half-dozen investigations into Trump that deal with the president providing preferential treatment to family members who work in his administration, the administration’s communications with foreign governments such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, the mishandling of government business by Ivanka Trump and Kushner, and the alleged campaign hush payment scheme.
Nadler’s Judiciary panel has launched a wide-ranging probe into the president and his advisers’ possible obstruction of justice and corruption. The committee is in the process of gathering documents from and setting up interviews with 81 people and groups in the president’s orbit, including his business associates, 2016 campaign advisers, and current and former White House staff.
The House Intelligence and Financial Services committees are probing Trump’s personal finances, including whether any foreign entities have financial leverage over him.
And the House Ways and Means Committee is methodically putting together a legal case to obtain the president’s tax files to examine them for any wrongdoing and conflicts of interest.