News ID: 251597
Published: 0624 GMT April 18, 2019

White House, Justice Department officials discussed Mueller report ahead of release: NYT

White House, Justice Department officials discussed Mueller report ahead of release: NYT

White House lawyers and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have met recently to discuss the conclusions of a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Citing people with knowledge of the discussions, The Times said Wednesday the discussions had helped President Donald Trump’s legal team prepare for the release of the report and strategize for the public relations and political battles that are likely to follow, reported.

Mueller submitted his confidential report to US Attorney General William Barr in late March, triggering calls from lawmakers in Congress for the document’s quick release. Barr was supposed to decide how much of the report to disclose.

The top US law enforcement officer is scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday to discuss the report more than an hour before Congress or the public gets a chance to see it.

Democrats have complained about both the discussions between White House and DOJ officials as well as Barr’s much anticipated conference.

US House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday he had been told by the DOJ that Congress would not receive Mueller’s report until after Barr’s 9:30 a.m. EDT news conference.

"The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report," Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters. "Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Twitter blasted Barr, saying he "has thrown out his credibility & the DOJ’s independence.”

Meanwhile, a US prosecutor said Wednesday that some Congress members can see a less-redacted version of Mueller’s report after the initial public release.

“The Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff a copy of the Special Counsel’s report without certain redactions,” Jessie Liu, the attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a court filing.

“The Justice Department intends to secure this version of the report in an appropriate setting that will be accessible to a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff,” she added.

Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

Throughout his investigation, Mueller has brought charges against 34 people and three companies. It is not clear yet whether the report contains allegations of wrongdoing by Trump or exonerates him.

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