Washington braces for release of redacted Mueller report, as new feud brewing

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/4/18 15:43:44

A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe will be released Thursday, set to trigger a new round of feud between the White House and Congressional Democrats.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr will hold a press conference at the Justice Department on Thursday morning to discuss Mueller's report, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The press conference will start at 9:30 a.m. local time (1330 GMT), according to spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

Barr will be joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017, but the special counsel and members of his prosecutorial team will not be present.

The attorney general is expected to provide an overview of the report, explaining his thinking and address process questions, according to CNN.

The Justice Department has said it will release a redacted version of Mueller's report Thursday, nearly a month after the special counsel concluded his investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mueller submitted a nearly 400-page report to Barr, whose 4-page summary of the report's "principal conclusions" states that there was no evidence of collusion between the Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

The special counsel, meanwhile, did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice, said Barr's synopsis. The attorney general concluded Mueller's findings are "not sufficient" to support a charge.

President Trump, who claimed "total exoneration" from Barr's summary, said Wednesday he might hold a news conference as well.

"You'll see a lot of strong things come out tomorrow," Trump told WMAL radio's Larry O'Connor show. "Attorney General Barr is going to be doing a press conference. Maybe I'll do one after that, we'll see."

Trump is scheduled to leave for Florida Thursday afternoon, and he may speak with reporters upon departure.

Democrats have demanded the full, unredacted report be made public to get a clearer picture of Mueller's investigation and conduct Congressional oversight.

Barr has promised to be as transparent as possible but told lawmakers that parts of Mueller's report will be redacted to protect grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, matters that could affect ongoing investigations and damage to the privacy rights of third parties.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday that he had learned from the Justice Department that his panel will not receive the report until around Thursday noon after Barr's press conference.

"This is wrong," tweeted Nadler, a New York Democrat who has repeatedly criticized Barr's handling of the release of Mueller's report.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Barr, a Trump appointee who was sworn in as attorney general in February, of trying to "shape the public's perception of the report" by hold a press conference ahead of its release.

Nadler also said he's "deeply troubled" by reports that the White House is being briefed on the Mueller report ahead of its release.

The New York Times reported earlier Wednesday that the Justice Department had discussed the report with the White House on several occasions in the lead-up to Thursday.

Congressional panels will reportedly be sent the redacted report on discs in the 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) hour.

A copy of the report will be posted on the special counsel website after the document has been delivered to Congress.

Mueller took over the Russia investigation after Trump abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey, a move that raised questions about his potential obstruction of justice.

The wide-ranging inquiry led to felony charges against 34 people, including six Trump associates and advisers, and three entities. Russia has denied any meddling in the U.S. election.

Trump has repeatedly slammed Mueller's probe as a "hoax" or a "witch hunt."

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