(Gray News/AP) – Attorney General William Barr reportedly left the Department of Justice after spending nine hours there reviewing special counsel Robert Mueller’s report Saturday. He is on pace to release his first summary of Mueller’s findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said.
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversaw much of his work, analyzed the report and labored to condense it into a summary letter of main conclusions. Mueller delivered his full report to Barr on Friday.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Barr initially said that he may reveal some of the report’s findings “as soon as this weekend.”
Barr wrote in his Friday letter that he was reviewing the report and reveal the special counsel’s “principle conclusions.” Those principle conclusions would be just one piece of the full report.
Democrats want access to all of Mueller’s findings — and supporting evidence — on whether Trump’s 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later sought to obstruct the investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats on Saturday she would reject any classified briefing on Mueller’s report, saying the information must be provided to Congress in a way that allows lawmakers to discuss it publicly.
A person on the call who asked for anonymity to discuss the private session with Democratic lawmakers said Pelosi told Democrats “the takeaway” from the call is that the American people “deserve the truth.” She said she’d reject a classified briefing for top lawmakers and congressional intelligence committee members.
The White House on Saturday said it still had not been briefed on report. President Donald Trump was said to be calm and confident as he spent the day on the golf course at Mar-a-Lago with singer Kid Rock. The president has not tweeted or otherwise publicly commented yet on the end of the Russia investigation.
Mueller reportedly did not recommend any more criminal charges for any more individuals as the investigation closed.
In a statement Friday through a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, he acknowledged the investigation was over.
“The special counsel will be concluding his service in the coming days. A small number of staff will remain to assist in closing the operations of the office for a period of time," the statement, released by spokesman Peter Carr, said.
In his Friday letter, Barr said he was consulting with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law.”
“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Barr said in the letter, which was sent to Republicans Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Doug Collins, and Democrats Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Graham and Nadler are the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, respectively, and Feinstein and Collins are the ranking minority members of those committees.
Barr also outlined that he was required to inform Congress if the Department of Justice had at any point during the investigation determined if a course of action by the special counsel was “so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it “should not be pursued.” The attorney general wrote that “there were no such instances.”
In a joint statement Friday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Barr to release the report to the public.
“It is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings for Congress,” they said.
They also asked Barr not to allow President Donald Trump or White House lawyers a “sneak preview” of the report’s findings. “The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” Pelosi and Schumer said.
For two years Mueller’s investigation traced the outlines of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The probe was a preoccupation of Trump’s almost since he took office, hanging over his administration and becoming a central fixation of U.S. politics.
Perhaps not since Watergate has such an investigation held such an extraordinary place in American life.
It weaved in sometimes dizzying directions along the way - a frequent conservative criticism of the investigation - coming to touch on questions of whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government, whether the president obstructed justice in his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and whether Trump’s finances, in business and in politics, were entirely legal.
The end result is 37 indictments, and a handful of other cases referred to the Justice Department.
It has ensnared a half dozen associates of the president’s. They range from close confidants such as Roger Stone and former lawyer Michael Cohen, to 2016 campaign operatives such as Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, to a onetime administration official, Michael Flynn, who briefly served as the president’s national security adviser.
That resulted in eight convictions and guilty pleas, including those of Flynn, Cohen and Manafort. Cohen will spend three years in prison, and Manafort has been sentenced to more than seven years between two separate cases.
Notably, the president himself was never interviewed by the special counsel, and none of his family members were ever indicted.
The Mueller team’s work has also not ignored the source of the 2016 interference campaign - Russia itself.
In February 2018, 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies were charged for their involvement with the Internet Research Agency, the propaganda shop U.S. intelligence believes acted as a “troll factory” skewing online debate during the 2016 election.
And in July, more indictments were issued for 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of involvement in the hack of Democratic emails during the campaign.
Mueller himself was a muted figure for the last two years, occupying a near-daily presence in the national media and in the nation’s halls of power despite keeping a quiet profile. His office never publicly countered the president as he repeatedly railed against the investigation as a “witch hunt.” It never informed the press of what progress it was making, or to what ends it was operating.
Partly because of that, it is still mostly down to infrequent leaks and speculation as to what the special counsel might have found or what conclusions he might have drawn from his investigation.
What is known is Mueller’s work is now through, and Barr says he will soon shed light on what it uncovered.