On Thursday, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election will be released.
Attorney General William Barr will release a redacted version of Mueller’s report, to the chagrin of congressional Democrats. The release of the report comes nearly four weeks after Mueller turned the report over to Barr, who summarized the report in a four-page letter to the leaders of Congress and the American public.
The letter suggested there was no evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton for the presidency and that Mueller did not decide to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice because he could not determine by Department of Justice standards that Trump acted with “corrupt intent” to block the investigation.
Here’s a look at what has happened during the past two years and what is expected to happen on Thursday and beyond.
Here’s what we know will be in the report:
What we already know
We know that Mueller completed the report using 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses and 500 search warrants.
The report was delivered to Barr, who read it and wrote a four-page summary for Congress and the public.
In the summary, he said Mueller’s investigation:
In the letter he said Mueller’s investigation:
“… did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
As for possible charges of obstruction of justice, Barr wrote: “The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President — most of which have been the subject of public reporting — that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards regarding prosecution and conviction but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.”
Barr has said that four categories of information will be redacted from the special counsel’s report. (see below)
When will the report be released on Thursday?
According to the Justice Department, the report will be released sometime Thursday morning. The exact time was not specified. Barr will be holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Where will it be released?
The Justice Department will publish it on the special counsel’s website. It will also be published here and will include live updates and a look at the major portions of the report.
Will it be the entire report?
No, per Barr, portions will be redacted, or blacked out. According to Barr, the redactions will be color-coded to respond to the reason why the specific information is being redacted.
What are the reasons why information is being redacted?
There are four reasons the information would be redacted, Barr said. Those reasons are:
- If the release of the material infringes on the privacy of people who are only marginally connected to the investigation. The Justice Department calls those people “peripheral third parties.”
- If the release of the material reveals the sources and methods under which investigations are conducted.
- If the material falls under secrecy rules concerning information prosecutors present to a grand jury.
- If the release of the material could interfere with ongoing investigations.
When will we see the full report?
It may be a long time, or we might not see it at all. House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, has said the committee will subpoena the full report.
Even if they see the report, it’s not clear if they will share it with the public.
Will we know the circumstances surrounding the nearly two-year investigation?
Barr is scheduled to testify before Congress on May 1 and May 2. It is likely he will be asked questions about how decisions concerning the investigation were reached.
Will we hear from the White House on Thursday after the report is released?
President Trump’s lawyers are preparing a response to the report and are expected to deliver that response on Thursday.
How did this start?
During the 2016 campaign, the FBI began to see links between some of the people who had worked on Trump’s campaign and Russian oligarchs and pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians – Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn and others.
When files stolen from the Democratic National Committee were posted by Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, it was discovered that another person connected to the Trump campaign – George Papadopoulos – had told an Australian diplomat that the Russian government had damaging information about Trump.
On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened an investigation into any possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The investigation continued through the November 2016 election. After Trump won, several intelligence officials met with him to let him know about a dossier that contained damaging if not verified information about him.
After Trump was inaugurated, he reportedly asked FBI Director James Comey to end the part of the investigation into his then national security adviser Flynn.
Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017 and eight days later, Rod Rosenstein, who was acting attorney general as Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the investigation, appointed Mueller as a special counsel to take over the investigation.
Mueller was given two duties – to investigate any connection between Trump’s campaign and Russia and to investigate anything that “arose or may arise” from that investigation.
After nearly two years, Mueller brought charges against six people connected to Trump -- Flynn, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Papadopoulos. Five, all but Stone, have been either convicted or pleaded guilty. Twenty-eight others, 26 of those Russians, were also charged by Mueller.
Mueller concluded his work in March.
What happened to the report Mueller compiled?
Mueller’s report was turned over to Barr. The special counsel answers to the attorney general.
Barr alerted Congress that the investigation was over and two days later presented leaders of Congress with a four-page summary of the investigation’s findings.
Who are the players?
Who was involved with the investigation? Here they are:
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III
Attorney General William P. Barr
Former Attorney General Jeff B. Sessions
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein
Former FBI director James B. Comey
Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Democratic National Committee
Alex van der Zwaan
What happens next?
The report, with redactions, will be released on Thursday. Democrats in Congress have promised to go after the full, unredacted report by subpoenas or, more likely, in court.