WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he has no idea when special counsel Robert Mueller will deliver his highly anticipated report about the Russia investigation, or what form of it will finally be made public.
As all of Washington and much of the country waits for that potentially explosive accounting of Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation, Trump pointed out that the version that will become public will be determined by his hand-picked attorney general, William Barr.
“I have no idea about the Mueller report,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House on his way to his golf resort Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where he said he would meet with five Caribbean leaders later Friday and have trade talks with China.
“It’s going to be very interesting, but we’ll see what happens,” Trump said, as he continued to bash the probe as a “hoax,” a “witch hunt” and unfair. “I know that the attorney general, highly respected, ultimately will make a decision.”
The edgy sense of anticipation extends to the White House.
It’s like waiting for a baby,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani in his Washington hotel told the Washington Post in a telephone interview Friday. “If the report is good” — and finds no wrongdoing by the president — “I’ll give out cigars.”
Giuliani said Trump’s legal team has written a “counter report” with sections aimed at challenging possible assertions by Mueller. “I’m not sure we’ll have to use it,” Giuliani told the Post. “We don’t know how detailed their report will be.”
Giuliani added, “If they report with facts, we’ll say something right away and write something over the weekend. If there are no facts, I’m not sure we’ll put out a report. If it’s a statement from Barr saying he simply received it, I don’t think we’ll say anything.”
Meanwhile, a letter written last year by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017, and has overseen his work —- suggests the final report will not condemn Trump and might not include much detail about his links to Russia because he has not been charged with a crime.
In a June 27, 2018, letter to the chairmen and ranking minority party members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees — who will first receive the report Barr decides to transmit — Rosenstein warned the accounting will focus on those charged or indicted.
“Punishing wrongdoers through judicial proceedings is only one part of the department’s mission,” Rosenstein wrote. “We also have a duty to prevent the disclosure of information that would unfairly tarnish people who are not charged with crimes.”
Even though the House voted last week 420-0 on a resolution saying the Mueller report should be made public and Trump said Wednesday he was fine with a release of the report, Rosenstein said the Justice Department must keep many details confidential.
Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller will deliver a confidential report to Barr that describes the decisions he made during his investigation on why he filed charges or indictments and why he declined to prosecute.
Barr then must notify the chairmen and ranking members of the Judiciary committees in the House and Senate with Mueller’s report or a summary of it that he writes himself — which Barr told senators during his confirmation hearing that he might do.
Lawmakers likely will make public whatever Barr sends them.
On other topics, Trump also said he knows nothing about reports that his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner used the commercial WhatsApp application to communicate with foreign officials, despite requirements he use White House means of communication.
Trump, who will not got to the pro-Israel AIPAC conference this weekend, also again accused Democrats of being “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish,” a claim Democrats reject as untrue and unfounded.