Fri, 26 Apr 2019

U.S. lawmakers are awaiting conclusions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russias role in the 2016 U.S. election, with early findings expected on March 24.

Upon receiving Muellers long-awaited report on March 22, Attorney General William Barr said in a letter to congressional leaders that he may disclose the 'principal findings' of the 22-month-long investigation 'as soon as this weekend.'

U.S. media reported that Barr was poring over Muellers report, the culmination of two years of investigation, and would brief Congress on the findings on March 24.

There earlier had been speculation that Barr could present his summary to Congress on March 23.

The Justice Department has not commented officially on when Congress would be briefed.

Barr, the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House would all play a role in deciding how much of Muellers work should be made public.

Many lawmakers from both parties have said the entire report should be disclosed, with Democrats insisting that the White House not be allowed to edit the findings or block details from being released.

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Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on March 23 repeated his demand that the White House not be given a 'sneak peak' at the report, amid concerns that President Donald Trump may attempt to use his rights of executive privilege to exclude parts of the report from the public.

While Trump was at his golf club in Florida on March 23, more than 120 House Democrats held a conference call as they waited for Barr's summary, U.S. media reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats in the 35-minute call that the information must be provided to Congress in a way that allows lawmakers to discuss it publicly, the AP said, citing an anonymous source.

Pelosi said she would reject any classified briefing for top lawmakers and congressional intelligence committee members.

In talking points circulated on March 23 among Democratic members, leaders said that 'if necessary, Democrats would be prepared to use its subpoena authority to obtain the full report and underlying evidence as well as to obtain briefing and testimony from the special counsel, the attorney general, deputy attorney general, and other necessary officials.'

Meanwhile, Senator Chris Coons (Democrat-Delaware) a member of the Judiciary Committee, attempted to tamp down hopes of fellow party members that Muellers report would help bring down Trumps presidency.

'Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters.'

After Trump spent the morning golfing, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed that administration officials still had not seen the report or been briefed on its findings.

Asked how the president felt, Gidley replied: 'He's fine. Hes good.'

He declined to say whether the president had talked about the Mueller report while golfing.

Since 2017, Mueller has been examining both Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign and interactions between associates of Trump and Russian officials.

Mueller has also been examining whether Trump unlawfully tried to obstruct justice by trying to hinder his investigation.

Over the course of his probe, Mueller has indicted more than three dozen people and entities on various charges.

To date, however, none of the charges directly address the question of whether there was coordination between Trump officials and Russian officials.

U.S. media, citing Justice Department sources, said that no further indictments are to come directly from the Mueller probe.

However, other jurisdictions could file charges in offshoot issues from the Mueller probe.

For example, the investigation led to the U.S. attorney for Manhattan charging Trumps longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, with various financial crimes. Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty in exchange for his help with other investigations.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, The New York Times, and CNN

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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