WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s “principal conclusions” from his investigation of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia could be released Sunday after Attorney General William Barr spent Saturday reviewing the probe’s final report.
Barr was on pace to release his first summary of Mueller’s findings on Sunday, The Associated Press reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the process.
The stakes are high for those findings: President Donald Trump is seeking exoneration from a probe he condemns as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” and many Democrats are looking for new and compelling evidence that could prompt bipartisan support for his impeachment.
Many in Washington and the country hoped to hear those conclusions Saturday, but in midafternoon the Justice Department told Congress that Barr would not send them anything.
Barr said he anticipated that he might be able to send Congress those conclusions “as soon as this weekend” in a letter he sent to key members shortly after Mueller submitted his much-anticipated confidential report to the attorney general on Friday afternoon.
Barr faces pressure from Democrats and many Republicans to release Mueller’s full report so the American public can see what he determined and what evidence he gathered. He told lawmakers he aimed for “as much transparency as possible” under the law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Saturday that in the name of transparency she would reject any secret briefings of House members about the Mueller report, and that any briefings would not be classified so lawmakers could talk about it publicly.
Mueller’s report, which officials described as comprehensive, will explain his decisions on why he filed prosecutions or didn’t during a 22-month investigation that resulted in 34 convictions or indictments of individuals and spun off cases to other prosecutors.
But the Justice Department also said Mueller will not recommend any more indictments — which means he will not charge Trump with obstruction of justice or, along with others in his campaign, with illegally conspiring or coordinating with Russia — the central issue that Mueller was assigned to investigate.
Some Republicans have begun celebrating a report they say clears Trump and warned of a backlash against his accusers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) earlier this month promised a probe by the Judiciary Committee he chairs into the origin of and FBI role in the investigation.
“All we know about Mueller Report is NO ONE was indicted for Russian collusion or conspiracy. Don’t know what findings could be in Report. So far vindicates those who said there was no basis for investigation,” tweeted Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
Trump, who press aides said has not been briefed yet about the report, was uncharacteristically quiet Saturday. He spent the day golfing and meeting with his attorneys and top aides at his golf resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He had not tweeted or talked to reporters.
Democrats geared up for battle over their demand that Barr make public the entire report and release the report’s underlying documents to Congress, and some members began arguing that the House should require Mueller to testify about his report in public.
Democrats have said that given that Justice Department policy says a sitting president cannot be indicted, that still leaves room for possible conclusions by Mueller that Trump did seek to work with Russia or took steps that amounted to obstruction of justice.
About 120 House Democrats participated in a 35-minute emergency conference call Saturday afternoon that featured Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and other key committee chairmen to strategize, and where Pelosi rejected secret briefings, according to a participant.
Meanwhile, Mueller will soon step down as special counsel.
“The Special Counsel will be concluding his service in the coming days,” his spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement. “A small number of staff will remain to assist in closing the operations of the office for a period of time.”
Some pending cases remain, including the charge of lying against longtime Trump friend and aide Roger Stone. CNN reported the case against former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia.
And while the Mueller investigation has ended, Trump still faces lawsuits and investigations by federal prosecutors in New York and by state authorities, and dozens of probes by House Democrats.