Now Attorney General William Barr could be facing a congressional subpoena and a protracted legal battle to release the full, unredacted report.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's damning report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign's possible ties to it, and Trump's alleged obstruction of justice is finally out — nearly a month after after Mueller submitted it to Attorney General William Barr.
Barr redacted certain portions of the nearly 500-page report — including some pertaining to ongoing criminal matters — leaving the public in the dark about large chunks of Mueller's nearly two-year-long investigation.
And Barr gave Congress the same redacted copy, which is likely to set off a fierce legal battle over Congress' subpoena power.
Justice Department lawyers said in a Wednesday court filing that "a limited number of members of Congress and their staff" will have limited access to a "less redacted" version of the report. But House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has long demanded that the committee should be given nothing less than the full, unredacted report — and Nadler could issue a subpoena for that full report as early as Friday, Politico reported. The House Judiciary Committee already gave Nadler the go-ahead to issue a subpoena if and when Nadler felt it was necessary.
Back in March, when Mueller first submitted the report, Barr wrote a short summary declaring that there was no collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, and that Trump wouldn't face any criminal charges for obstruction of justice.
Much of the media swallowed Barr's exculpatory narrative hook, line, and sinker, despite never seeing the report's contents. This enabled Trump and his motley crew of defenders to declare that Trump achieved "total exoneration" from the report — even though Barr's summary explicitly acknowledged that Mueller's report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction.
As the weeks ticked on, however, Trump's initial declaration of total innocence morphed into panicked outbursts about Mueller's investigation, suggesting he was no longer confident that the report was exonerating.
Trump started pushing a totally false narrative that his campaign was "spied" on by investigators — a lie that Barr, who should have known better, echoed in front of Congress.
Similarly, Trump's lawyers have already prepared their own counter-report to rebut Mueller's claims — a clear sign that they, too, knew the report was not exonerating.
And they had help from Barr's team, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Justice Department officials had "numerous conversations with White House lawyers" in "recent days" about the Mueller report, sources told the Times — and those conversations have "aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings."
For now, it's unclear when Trump's team will release their rebuttal to Mueller's findings.
But no matter how they spin it, the public doesn't seem inclined buy it. Recent polling finds most Americans believe the Mueller report does not exonerate Trump, and think that Congress should investigate whether Trump committed a crime and obstructed justice.
Now, Americans will get to read at least some of the Mueller report and truly decide for themselves.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.