Washington awaits key findings of Mueller probe

The US Justice Department is expected to release the main findings from special counsel Robert Mueller’s long and contentious investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential elections as early as this evening.

The report is currently only accessible to a handful of Justice Department officials while attorney general William Barr prepared to release the “principal conclusions”.

He was pictured arriving at the Department of Justice early on Saturday morning in Washington a day day after Mr Mueller wrapped up the probe that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency.

Even with the details still under wraps, the indication that Mr Mueller does not plan to make any additional indictments was welcome news to some in Mr Trump’s orbit who had feared a final round of charges could ensnare more of his associates, including members of the president’s family.

Mr Trump, who has relentlessly criticised Mr Mueller’s 22-month investigation as a “witch hunt,” was on the golf course in Florida on Saturday, and House Democrats were planning to gather by phone later in the day as they waited for the Justice Department to send details of the findings.

Mr Barr, who was at the department’s headquarters on Saturday morning, said in a Friday letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees that he would share Mueller’s main findings as soon as this weekend.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Attorney general William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Virginia (Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP)</figcaption>
Attorney general William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Virginia (Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP)

The Justice Department said the report was delivered by a security officer late on Friday to the office of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and it was then passed to Mr Barr.

Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.

The White House sought to keep some distance, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the report. Mr Trump, surrounded by advisers and political supporters at his resort in Florida, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

Mr Mueller’s report sought to answer two core questions: Did Mr Trump’s campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favour of the celebrity businessman? Also, did Mr Trump take steps later, including by firing his FBI director, to obstruct the probe?

A Justice Department official confirmed that Mr Mueller was not recommending any further indictments, and described the document as “comprehensive”.

That was good news for a handful of the president’s associates and family members dogged by speculation of possible wrongdoing.

[redmore]912833[/readmore]

They include Donald Trump Jr, who had a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller’s prosecutors.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Mueller might have referred additional investigations to the Justice Department.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Mr Muller arrives at his office on Thursday (Andrew Harnik/AP)</figcaption>
Mr Muller arrives at his office on Thursday (Andrew Harnik/AP)

During the investigation, Mr Mueller charged 34 people, including the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies.

Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.

Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with Mr Mueller and a sixth, long-time confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

The conclusion of the investigation does not remove legal peril for the president.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Copies of a letter from Mr Barr advising Congress that Mr Mueller has concluded his investigation (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)</figcaption>
Copies of a letter from Mr Barr advising Congress that Mr Mueller has concluded his investigation (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Mr Trump faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election.

He has also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Mr Trump asked him to arrange the transactions.

Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president’s inaugural committee.

In his letter to lawmakers, Mr Barr noted the department had not denied any request from the special counsel, something the attorney general would have been required to disclose to ensure there was no political inference.

Mr Trump was never interviewed in person, but submitted answers to questions in writing.

- Press Association

Most Read in World