What could happen when it's done: NPR


Special advocate Robert Mueller, who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election, is currently preparing a report on his findings. But what form it will take and how much the public will learn is not clear.

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Special advocate Robert Mueller, who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election, is currently preparing a report on his findings. But what form it will take and how much the public will learn is not clear.

AFP / Getty Images

The investigation on Russia could be about to end on a spectacular finale or about to set off like a wet firecracker.

Or, as has been so often the case before, Washington could prepare for a fireworks display that will not even happen. Despite some indications that the special council, Robert Mueller, may be concluding, the Department of Justice has not officially confirmed that this is the case.

But the prospect of the end of the investigation of Russia, or at least the end of this phase, has raised many questions about current history and what might happen next.

Here is what you need to know.

What is Mueller investigating?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller in the spring of 2017 to establish whether there was any link or coordination between President Trump's campaign and the Russians who attacked the 2016 presidential election.

The fact that there was an attack is no longer controversial and Mueller enlightened him a lot.

The Ministry of Justice has indicted Russian intelligence agents for launching cyberattacks against US political targets, stealing embarrassing information before releasing them to wreak havoc.

Other Russians have been accused of having used social media jitters to amplify controversy in the United States and pit Americans against each other.

The investigators also definitively established that the Russians or their middlemen were in contact with several Americans in Trump's orbit. Some of them offered help or to build upstream relationships.

What does Trump say?

The president talks about what he accepts regarding Russia's interference in the elections, but he has always maintained that the Mueller case investigation was a "hoax" or "a" witch hunt ", part of a conspiracy conspiracy of disgruntled Ministry of Justice insiders.

Trump says that he did not know in 2016, for example, that the Russians had made overtures to people in his campaign, including the one that had resulted in a Trump Tower delegation meeting with Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner and his campaign president, Paul Manafort.

Skeptics argue that it is unlikely that Trump is unaware of Russia's presence, including this meeting, and pointed out that a month later, Trump had asked Russia – "if you listen" – try to locate Missing emails from Hillary Clinton.

Mueller investigators have since determined that Russian hackers have redoubled their cyberattacks against Clinton the same day. Until then, it is not clear whether there was any connection with Trump's comments or whether there were any other links with Trump.

When could we know if there was a link?

There is no official word as to when the Special Council Office may terminate its work and, if so, may publish conclusions other than those included in the cases brought before the courts.

So, Mueller's report might not be public?

No – and there could even be no "report".

The Ministry of Justice's regulations require the Mueller office to provide the Attorney General with a "confidential" report at the end of his work, but Barr is not obliged to publish it.

Other settlements require Barr to address certain opinions to the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate, but not to Barr's giving them, or the public, the product of Mueller's work.

Barr stated that he supported the idea of ​​making public a report from Mueller's office, consistent with the regulations and the law. Democrats are worried that Barr will not make an unconditional commitment to release something.

There are proposals for Congress to pass a law that would force the special advocate's office to do something, but they have not become law.

Why would Mueller not publish a big report?

He may not consider it his job: he is a former FBI director and a prosecutor. It was not asked Mueller to write a narrative about the events of 2016, in the image of the Commission on 9/11, for example. Mueller has a law enforcement perspective:

He seeks out there is evidence that a law has been violated.

Along the way, he also revealed a lot of information about the Russian-led campaign of influence against the United States, but not in a very user-friendly way: everything was done in acts of violence. accusation or court documents, without a scenario easy to follow from the outset. to finish or aids such as graphics or graphics.

Nevertheless, court documents are public, and so Mueller and the Department of Justice may think they are sufficient to disclose information that they feel should be public.

Will there be a press conference?

Barr did not expect it, but he could. He and other Justice Department officials, however, are sensitive to criticisms of FBI Director James Comey and the FBI in 2016 when Comey announced that 39, he would not recommend charges against Clinton.

"If you will not charge someone, do not stand up and disclose any negative information about it," Barr said in January. "It is not so that the Department of Justice conducts its business."

This may mean that Barr could simply announce that Mueller's work is complete, without however trying to find out why he decided not to indict some people who apparently were part of the Russian imbroglio.

One aspect of the investigation that the settlement specifically asks Barr to deal with Congress is whether he, or potentially one of his predecessors, rejected a request from Mueller.

For example, if the special board's office asks for permission to try to summon someone to appear and the leaders refuse, Barr can inform the House Judiciary Committees and the Senate.

If Mueller finishes his work, does that mean that the Trump investigations are over?

The Special Council Office has forged partnerships with other important departments of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney's Offices in Manhattan, Washington, California, and Alexandria, Virginia. Current cases could now be reviewed by these prosecutors.

The pursuit of political consultant Roger Stone, for example, is entrusted to the Washington, DC office.

An investigation into Trump's inaugural committee is underway in the southern and eastern districts of New York. Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who cooperated with the government, could serve as a prosecution witness in a case involving his former business partners in Alexandria.

Congress members are also continuing their research on Trump.

House and Senate intelligence committees are working on their own investigations in Russia – although they probably do not have access to the same wealth of witnesses or documents as Mueller – and other groups, including the committee. also wish to review the finances of Trump and other sources. Questions.

What will the Congress do?

If Barr or Mueller announce the end of the special advocate's investigation, the next scene of this tragedy could be found at Capitol Hill, but it's hard to know what could happen without knowing what Mueller intends to do.

In an extreme scenario, Mueller could write that he has uncovered evidence of serious wrongdoing including Trump, thus preparing a debate on dismissal by the Judiciary Committee of the House, led by President Jerry Nadler, DN .Y.

Mueller could also give the president an important shot if the special council's conclusions dispel the Russian cloud hanging over the White House.

Or if Mueller does something between the two – or that he or the Department of Justice complete a document that they wish to prevent from becoming public – it could trigger a political battle.

For example, if members of Congress get a classified report that they are asked to keep secret, they run the risk of arguing or not. Or, if the Department of Justice finishes something that it does not even want to give to Congress, lawmakers might wonder if Barr has to be forced to reveal it.

Mueller and his associates could also become the most wanted witnesses for a congressional hearing since Comey. There could be a separate disagreement as to whether they actually appear.

The political stakes, as they have arisen since the beginning of the investigation on Russia, could not be more important.


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