By Jon Dougherty
A new analysis of Robert Mueller and his ongoing investigation into all things Team Trump notes that the special counsel hasn’t said anything publicly about his findings and it’s very possible that, much to the chagrin of Democrats, he never will.
Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen write in USA Today:
Occasionally, his signature appears on court documents. But on the most consequential days of the nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the man leading it – Robert Mueller – has been conspicuously absent.
When President Donald Trump’s senior aides and confidants paraded through federal courtrooms to face criminal charges his office had filed, the former FBI director was nowhere to be seen. When some of them came back to court to be convicted, he said nothing.
It’s possible he never will.
According to Justice Department rules, which Mueller must adhere to, he is required to submit a final report following the conclusion of his investigation, which is now approaching two years in length. There have been reports that he’s close to doing that.
But as POTUS Trump’s incoming Attorney General, William Barr, intimated last week during his Senate confirmation hearings, it’s not at all certain he’ll make Mueller’s report public — or even parts of it — because he’s under no obligation to do so.
And that upsets Democrats who, of course, have disdain for rules and regulations that bump up against their political objectives, which in this case is ‘getting Trump.’
“Where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and department policy and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision,” Barr said during his confirmation hearing in January.
As Johnson and Jansen note, those who know Mueller best know that he plays his cards close to his vest and doesn’t speak publicly about what he’s doing.
“A public narrative has built an expectation that the special counsel will explain his conclusions, but I think that expectation may be seriously misplaced,” John Pistole, Mueller’s longtime top deputy at the FBI, told the paper. “That’s not what the rules provide, and I really don’t see him straying from the mission. That’s not who he is.”
That helps explain why Democrats in the House — including Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff of California and Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler of New York, are talking about expanding probes beyond the scope of what Mueller has already covered, including the president’s taxes and business finances.
As for Mueller, his report need only explain why he brought charges against those he’s indicted, and why he chose not to file any against other figures — presumably that would include the president.
Based on who’s been indicted — the closest to Trump being his first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who is yet to be formally sentenced — there are few indications that Mueller has any evidence pertaining to his initial mandate: Trump-Russia “collusion” to influence or steal the 2016 election.
And as we’ve seen in the two years since the president has been in office, that narrative appears to have been concocted out of whole cloth by the Obama Deep State as a means of undermining POTUS Trump and his administration. Mueller, we’ve always believed, has been part of that operation.
That said, during Barr’s confirmation hearing, he said anyone expecting to hear from Mueller directly is likely to be disappointed.
Johnson and Jansen note further:
Barr told lawmakers he would “provide as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law,” about what Mueller’s investigation concludes.
He expressed doubt about how much detail he would be able to reveal. Justice Department rules require only that he notify Congress about instances in which he had overruled Mueller’s decisions about how the investigation should be handled. Some of the facts Mueller has gathered could be the result of grand jury proceedings, which are required by law to remain secret.
Barr pointed to a Justice Department policy to avoid publicizing “derogatory” information about people who aren’t charged with a crime. Senate Democrats expressed concern that the policy, combined with the department’s view that a president cannot be indicted, could lead Barr to keep confidential parts of the investigation that relate to Trump.
That could in turn set up a battle with congressional Democrats eager to know the details.
And herein lies the path forward: If Democrats don’t get their way (and according to current Justice Department rules, they won’t) we expect portions of Mueller’s report to be selectively leaked — but in a way to make it appear as though the president was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and Mueller just didn’t think charging him would fly, given DoJ’s interpretation of the Constitution regarding indictments of sitting presidents.
Leading Trump-Russia conspiracy theorist Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) all but admitted what’s to come next.
“If the attorney general doesn’t issue a public report, they can expect it to be subpoenaed by Congress because of the high public value of Americans understanding just what the Russians did and who worked with them,” he told USA Today.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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