Washington, 23 March 2019 (MIA/dpa) – Robert Mueller, the US special counsel that has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, the attorney general said in a letter Friday.
The move signals the end of an investigation that has dominated headlines, enthralled Americans and consumed much of President Donald Trump’s time in office for nearly two years.
All eyes are now on Barr, who has the authority to decide how much of the report to disclose to lawmakers and the public. In his letter, Barr did not provide any details on the findings of the report but said he may be able to brief lawmakers on Mueller’s “principal conclusions” this weekend.
The attorney general said Mueller has “concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters” and submitted the report to him.
Barr added that he is reviewing the report and will determine in consultation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller “what other information from the report can be released” to the public and Congress.
“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Barr said.
Following the announcement US media, citing Justice Department officials, reported that Mueller will not file any more indictments in connection to his investigation.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate demanded that the attorney general provide full public disclosure of the report and all related documents, saying Americans “have a right to the truth.”
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also said that Barr should not allow the White House to “interfere” in the next steps.
“Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of special counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”
Last week, the House unanimously passed a non-binding resolution to make the Mueller report public, showing the strong bipartisan support for full disclosure.
In his letter, Barr also said that no attorney general or acting attorney general had rejected a proposed action by the special counsel on the determination that it was “inappropriate or unwarranted.”
This disclosure, which Barr was required by law to provide, indicates that Trump-appointed Justice Department officials did not interfere with the investigation.
“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.”
Trump has previously said he would be in favor of releasing the report to the public. Before leaving the White House for Florida on Friday, he told journalists: “I have no idea about the Mueller report.”
Mueller, a former director of the FBI, was appointed by the Department of Justice nearly two years ago to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as any potential collusion with the Trump campaign.
While Mueller’s probe has led to charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Russian intelligence officers and others close to the president, the investigation has not publicly revealed any illegal collusion between Russia and Trump campaign aides.
The special counsel’s appointment came after an outcry over Russian meddling in the election was detailed in an assessment by the US intelligence community in late 2016.
Mueller took over the investigation into Russia‘s actions in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a move that raised questions about potential obstruction of justice. Those questions along with any collusion between Russia and Trump campaign associates were at the heart of Mueller’s investigation.
Since Mueller began his probe, the president has lambasted it as a “witch hunt” and insisted that there has been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he welcomes the announcement that the Mueller has completed his investigation.
“Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests,” McConnell said in a statement. “I hope the Special Counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”
Mueller has used his authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered to indict a number of Trump associates. Among them were Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser, Roger Stone, who served as a campaign adviser and Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
Manafort was sentenced this month to more than seven years in prison for bank, tax fraud and conspiracy charges and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution and a 50,000 dollar fine.
The convictions involved evading US taxes on millions of dollars in fees Manafort received from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Prosecutors said he then lied to get bank loans when his Ukrainian income dried up, according to the charges.
Manafort still faces a state-level indictment filed in New York in connection with an alleged residential mortgage fraud scheme.