Special Advocate Robert S. Mueller III has delivered a confidential report to Attorney General William P. Barr, marking the end of his investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and l & # 39; And possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice.
The Justice Department informed Congress on Friday night that it had received Mueller's report but had not described the content. Barr should summarize the findings for legislators in the coming days.
In a letter to the heads of the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate, Barr wrote that Mueller "concluded his investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and related issues".
Barr wrote that Mueller had submitted a report explaining his prosecution decisions. The attorney general told lawmakers that he "was reviewing the report and expected that I might be able to inform you of the key findings of the special advocate this weekend."
The Attorney General wrote that he would consult Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Mueller "to determine what other information in the report could be disclosed to Congress and to the public in accordance with the law, including the regulations of the Special Advisor. and the long standing practices and policies. "
Barr stated that there had been no cases during the investigation where one of Mueller's decisions had been opposed by his superiors at the Department of Justice.
"I remain committed to the utmost transparency and I will keep you informed of the status of my opinion," said Barr.
The presentation of Mueller's report marks the culmination of his investigation, a case that has engulfed the Trump government since its inception and has led to multiple pleas of guilty from former presidential advisers. With the close of its investigation, Congress and the majority in the newly-vested Democratic House will evaluate its findings and determine the next steps.
Well before its completion, Mueller's report was a very controversial issue. Legislators sought assurances from the Department of Justice that the special advocate would make a full public account of what he had discovered during the two-year investigation.
According to the regulations of the Department of Justice, the report of the special council should explain the decisions of Mueller – who was charged, who was investigated but not charged, and why.
Mueller's work has absorbed Washington and sometimes the country. The special advocate and his team then investigated whether Trump associates had plotted with Russian officials to interfere in the elections.
It is not known how much of what Mueller discovered will be revealed in Barr's summary for Congress. Congressional Democrats, predicting incomplete accounting, have already sent the Department of Justice numerous requests for documents that would spell out what Mueller discovered.
Mueller's work led to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers.
Five people close to the president pleaded guilty to Former Trump campaign president Paul Manafort; former assistant campaign manager Rick Gates; former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; former personal attorney Michael Cohen; and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
A sixth, Roger Stone, a long-time friend of Trump, was indicted in January and accused of lying to Congress. He pleaded not guilty.
More than two dozen people accused by Mueller are Russians and, as the US has no extradition treaty with Russia, it is unlikely they will ever see inside a courtroom US.
None of the Americans indicted by Mueller is accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election – the central issue of Mueller's work. Instead, they pleaded guilty to various crimes, including lying to the FBI.
The special advocate's investigation was launched on May 17, 2017, in a time of crisis for the FBI, the Ministry of Justice and the country.
A few days earlier, President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey. The alleged reason was how Comey handled the 2016 survey of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Trump said in an interview with NBC News shortly after the dismissal that he was thinking about the investigation. about Russia when it decided to withdraw Comey.
Because FBI administrators are appointed for a 10-year term to guarantee their political independence, the dismissal of Comey rocked Washington. This triggered alarms in the Justice Department and in Congress, where lawmakers feared the president would be determined to end the investigation on Russia before it was over.
After the Attorney General of the day, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the investigation of Russia, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein chose Mueller as a special advocate, partly to appease the nascent political crisis.
Mueller, a veteran of the Vietnam War, prosecutor and former director of the FBI, was much appreciated. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, as well as federal veterans of law enforcement and intelligence, admired and have long trusted Mueller, a Republican.
The takeover of the Russian inquiry by the special council has left a lot of critical criticism of the president on the fact that Trump would not be able to stop the investigation before Mueller gets answers.
While it was publicly known since the summer of 2016 that the FBI was investigating Russian attempts to interfere in the presidential campaign, officials largely silenced the fact that there were also had an investigation, starting in July, to see if the Trump campaigners could conspire. with the Russians.
After Trump won the elections, this inquiry broke out in public view.
In late 2016 and early 2017, the FBI was investigating whether people close to Trump had helped Russia in these efforts, even as Trump was sworn in and began to hold senior positions in the government.
Just days after entering the new administration, FBI agents questioned Flynn at the White House, questioning him about his conversations during the transition with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia's ambassador to the United States. Flynn would be forced to leave his job a month later, after being accused of misleading management officials about these conversations.
The Mueller investigation focused on a number of avenues of inquiry, including whether the president's behavior before and after the dismissal of Comey was an attempt to obstruct justice.
Throughout 2017, Mueller's team, based in an office building in Washington, sued Manafort over his finances. This case was also inherited from the work previously done by the Justice Department and the FBI, but under Mueller, it came back to life. In October 2017, Manafort and Gates, his right hand man, were charged with multiple financial crimes.
Two months later, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Republican political opposition to his work also increased, encouraged in part by repeated statements by the president that the investigation was a "witch hunt".
One day after Flynn's plea, the Washington Post announced that Peter Strzok, the former FBI chief agent in Mueller's team, had been removed from office by anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with a senior FBI lawyer, Lisa Page. The two had worked on the Clinton inquiry and their texts to each other during the campaign revealed a disdain for Trump.
The texts, insist the officials of the Ministry of Justice, did not compromise the investigation of Russia, but they fuel a political counter-attack by Republicans loyal to the president who accuse the FBI of handling the Clinton and Trump with a political agenda influencing the investigation. .
While the fighting was raging, Mueller said practically nothing. Partly because of this silence, the political factions tended to say almost anything they wanted about their work. Republicans in the House The Freedom Caucus called this farce a waste of money; The Democrats presented each new stage of the inquiry as further evidence that the investigation was so serious that Trump's days as president could be counted.
While the investigation was entering its second year, it was aimed directly at Moscow. In February 2018, 13 Russians were indicted in connection with an online "troll farm", accused of sowing American political division and mistrust via social media. Five months later, Mueller's office indicted a dozen Russian military intelligence officials, claiming that they had conspired to hack the Democratic computer accounts and make the stolen files public.
Last year, Mueller devoted his time and energy to the issue of obstruction. Whether Trump or his senior advisers sought to stop or paralyze the investigation of Russia was one of the main reasons why Mueller's work as a special counsel existed at the grassroots level. Mueller interviewed Trump's relatives about the president's private statements about the investigation, about his tweets attacking law enforcement officials, and about internal documents that might shed light on his behavior.
Proof of a suspect's intent is an important element of any obstruction case, and there was a witness that Mueller was never able to enter a room: Trump. After months of negotiations, the president's lawyers agreed to submit written answers to the special council's questions. In the end, Mueller and the Justice Ministry did not summon the president, which could have led to a fight in the Supreme Court.
In August, Mueller's team was convicted by Manafort in a Virginia courthouse, at the same time Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and so-called repairman, pleaded guilty to an agreement with federal prosecutors to New York. Cohen eventually pleaded guilty twice and, at the time of his sentencing, he accused Trump of his loss.
In January, Mueller's team accused Stone of obstructing the special council's efforts and lying to Congress about its efforts in 2016 to find out when potentially harmful emails from Clinton's presidential campaign would be published by the anti-corruption group. WikiLeaks secret.
Mueller's latest public indictment was emblematic of much of his investigation: a person close to the president had been arrested and charged with crimes but not for conspiring with the Kremlin.