What does Mueller’s report say?
We don’t know yet. We know that Mueller has filed his report to William Barr, the attorney general, and that Barr has informed Congress that he received it.
Mueller was only required, under the regulations on special counsels, to explain to Barr whom he decided to prosecute, whom he declined to prosecute, and why. But it is possible that he added more detail on what he found out. A justice department official said on Friday the report was “comprehensive”.
Barr did disclose on Friday that there were no actions proposed by Mueller that Barr overruled. This means that Mueller apparently made it to the end of his investigation free from interference from Trump’s administration.
What does it mean for Donald Trump?
The report is likely to reveal whether or not Mueller discovered any coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered in the 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any such coordination, and no Americans have yet been charged for it. But Mueller has accused Trump’s former campaign chairman of sharing polling data with an alleged Russian intelligence asset.
The report may also say whether or not Mueller’s team concluded that Trump obstructed justice – or attempted to – by firing James Comey, the former FBI director, or taking other actions.
What happens with the report now?
It is not clear how much of the report will be given to Congress and the public.
Barr said in his letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate judiciary committees on Friday that he was reviewing the report and “may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend”.
Barr said he would separately be discussing with Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, what other information could be revealed to Congress and the public.
The attorney general told Congress that he was “committed to as much transparency as possible” but said he would also be guided by the justice department’s “long-standing practices and policies”. Typically the department does not make public derogatory information about people who are not being charged.
In any case Democrats, who control the House, have vowed to obtain the full report and make it public. If Barr resists this, a legal dispute may follow.
What were Mueller’s findings before this report?
Mueller documented, in lengthy and detailed indictments, a long-term and multi-level effort by Russia to tamper in US elections and sow discord online. Mueller’s documentation of the Russian espionage and sabotage efforts contrasted with Trump’s equivocation on whether Russia had engaged in such activity.
Mueller also uncovered and documented ties and contacts, before and after the 2016 election, between Russians and key former Trump aides including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Michael Cohen. All have pleaded guilty to criminal conduct or been convicted by a jury.
Mueller had also referred investigations to outside prosecutors’ offices in New York and Virginia, which have resulted in convictions against or guilty pleas from Manafort, Cohen and Gates, and which have led to ongoing investigations of alleged criminal conduct inside the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, Trump’s inaugural committee and the presidential transition team.
In all, Mueller had previously indicted or secured guilty pleas from 34 individuals (including 26 Russians and six former Trump aides) and three Russian corporations. With near unanimity, former prosecutors and legal analysts have judged Mueller’s work to have been completed with speed and precision.
What was Mueller’s brief?
Mueller was appointed on 17 May 2017, to serve as special counsel for the Department of Justice. The appointment was prompted by the firing of the FBI director, James Comey, eight days earlier; the recusal of the then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from matters pertaining to the Russia investigation; and a perceived need to protect and advance open investigations into Russian election tampering and the Trump campaign.
An official letter of authorization signed by the acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, authorized Mueller to investigate (quoting from the document):
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of [the statute prescribing the special counsel’s jurisdiction].
How long did it take? How much did it cost?
Mueller turned in his report 674 days after his appointment. By the end of last December, the investigation had cost about $27m, Politifact estimated – a fraction of the cost of special prosecutor investigations in decades past. Accounting for the estimated $48m that Mueller’s team has clawed back from tax cheats, the net cost of the Mueller investigation could be negative.
Are any other Trump-related investigations still ongoing?
Yes, lots. While the special counsel’s office has concluded its work, investigations taken up by federal prosecutors in the southern and eastern districts of New York continue, and prosecutors have also been active in the eastern district of Virginia and the District of Columbia. Unlike Mueller, those prosecutors are not bound by narrow authorizations dictating what activity they can investigate, and there is no pressure to hasten the investigations.
Congress is conducting separate investigations of Trump’s campaign and other matters. Evidence gathered by Mueller could feed those investigations.
What’s next for Mueller?
Mueller’s duties connected with his appointment as special counsel are now complete, and he is not expected to take on a further public role. Before agreeing to the special counsel appointment, Mueller, 74, was in private practice, after having served for 12 years as director of the FBI, as a US attorney, and as a marine. He has not announced future plans.