‘That’ll be totally up to the new attorney general…’
The Drudge Report cited the leftist cable network—home to frequent nemeses Jim Acosta, Don Lemon and Brian Stelter—in its banner headline Wednesday declaring that the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be coming to an end as early as next week.
CNN said newly-confirmed Attorney General William Barr was making plans to submit a summary report to Congress, “the clearest indication yet that Mueller is nearly done with his almost two-year investigation.”
Four of Mueller’s 17 investigators have now ceased work for the office, with most returning to their former roles in the Department of Justice. Observers also noted that the office staff was spotted carrying files and boxes out last week.
However, the exact timetable remained unclear, especially as officials may seek to avoid having its release conflict with Trump’s diplomatic efforts at an upcoming Vietnam summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump told reporters that he would leave it to Barr’s discretion how to time the release.
“That’ll be totally up to the new attorney general,” Trump said. “He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department.”
Although the official report from Mueller is required to be submitted confidentially to the DOJ, according to CNN Barr has expressed his desire to be as transparent as possible with Congress.
Even so, some were already tempering their expectations as to what the report might—or might not—reveal. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., expressed his belief earlier this week that the findings would be unduly influenced by pressure from the White House and said that he would continue to investigate regardless of the findings.
Both Schiff and House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler have hired full-time staffs to lead their investigations, including several D.C. influence-peddlers who have vocally accused Trump of impeachable offenses.
Mueller’s probe into allegations of Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia began in May 2017, only four month’s after Trump’s inauguration, and has been a source of constant criticism from the president, as well as proving a valuable weapon for his partisan opponents to deploy, despite there being no publicly released information yet that would directly implicate Trump.
Several top campaign associates have fallen in its wake, with some, like former adviser Paul Manafort, likely to spend the rest of their lives in jail, barring a sentence commutation from the White House.
Others, like former lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen have turned against Trump, casting their lot for leniency with Mueller and Congressional liberals who could offer a favorable deal for cooperation.
Although the grand jury used to indict many of the former staffers has not convened since Jan. 24—when it approved charges of obstruction, false statements and witness tampering against Roger Stone—some investigations unrelated to Russia have been referred by Mueller to other offices.
That includes the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York, which among other things is pursuing a charge by Cohen that Trump illicitly coordinated payoffs of porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal, whose shakedowns over decade-old affairs may have constituted campaign spending violations. Thus far it is the only criminal activity to directly implicate the president.