Is a Mueller report coming? Not necessarily.

Is a Mueller report coming? Not necessarily.

 

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves following a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Many observers and experts expect the probe could conclude with a report by Mueller and both the timing and contents of that document have become sources of intense speculation.‘ data-reactid=”24″>Many observers and experts expect the probe could conclude with a report by Mueller and both the timing and contents of that document have become sources of intense speculation.

Nevertheless, conventional wisdom holds that Mueller, a committed institutionalist, would not buck the consensus and indict President Trump. Accordingly, Mueller is expected to report any findings he makes about the president’s personal culpability to Congress, rather than seeking an indictment. That would allow Congress to review the information and, potentially, consider whether to initiate impeachment proceedings. ‘ data-reactid=”26″>Nevertheless, conventional wisdom holds that Mueller, a committed institutionalist, would not buck the consensus and indict President Trump. Accordingly, Mueller is expected to report any findings he makes about the president’s personal culpability to Congress, rather than seeking an indictment. That would allow Congress to review the information and, potentially, consider whether to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Alternatively, Mueller’s special counsel team could try to follow the more public route of Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton, which prepared a lengthy, excruciatingly detailed narrative report to Congress. Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress at the time, voted to make the Starr Report public on the internet shortly after it was delivered. It was quickly put into book form by three different publishers and rapidly shot to the top spots on the bestseller list. ‘ data-reactid=”28″>Alternatively, Mueller’s special counsel team could try to follow the more public route of Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton, which prepared a lengthy, excruciatingly detailed narrative report to Congress. Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress at the time, voted to make the Starr Report public on the internet shortly after it was delivered. It was quickly put into book form by three different publishers and rapidly shot to the top spots on the bestseller list.

The assumptions about Mueller’s reluctance to directly indict Trump coupled with the Jaworski and Starr precedents have left the press eagerly tracking rumors of one or more reports from the special counsel’s Russia probe. A Washington Post story in April of this year, for instance, said Mueller had “told Trump’s lawyers” that he is “preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.” A New York Times story in May, which was based on claims made by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s legal spokesman, reported that he hoped to complete his obstruction inquiry by Sept. 1. ‘ data-reactid=”30″>The assumptions about Mueller’s reluctance to directly indict Trump coupled with the Jaworski and Starr precedents have left the press eagerly tracking rumors of one or more reports from the special counsel’s Russia probe. A Washington Post story in April of this year, for instance, said Mueller had “told Trump’s lawyers” that he is “preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.” A New York Times story in May, which was based on claims made by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s legal spokesman, reported that he hoped to complete his obstruction inquiry by Sept. 1.

Those regulations provide that, at the end of Mueller’s work, he will give the attorney general “a confidential report explaining [his] prosecution or declination decisions.” The attorney general then controls whether this “confidential report” would be made public or included in the attorney general’s own required reports to the congressional judiciary committees.‘ data-reactid=”34″>Those regulations provide that, at the end of Mueller’s work, he will give the attorney general “a confidential report explaining [his] prosecution or declination decisions.” The attorney general then controls whether this “confidential report” would be made public or included in the attorney general’s own required reports to the congressional judiciary committees.

In the current case, the release of any report would depend on Sessions’s successor. Trump has for now replaced Sessions with his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has previously suggested he believes the Mueller probe has gone too far. In an op-ed written for CNN last year, Whitaker said the Department of Justice should put limits on the Mueller probe to stop it from becoming a “political fishing expedition.” Whitaker also has close ties to a key figure who has attracted Mueller’s attention. ‘ data-reactid=”36″>In the current case, the release of any report would depend on Sessions’s successor. Trump has for now replaced Sessions with his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has previously suggested he believes the Mueller probe has gone too far. In an op-ed written for CNN last year, Whitaker said the Department of Justice should put limits on the Mueller probe to stop it from becoming a “political fishing expedition.” Whitaker also has close ties to a key figure who has attracted Mueller’s attention.

If Mueller wishes to conduct an end run around the attorney general and present a report to Congress on his own, he might choose to follow the Jaworski model of having a grand jury file a presentment with a court and seek that court’s authorization to send the presentment on to Congress. That tactic isn’t required or forbidden by the current special counsel regulations.‘ data-reactid=”49″>If Mueller wishes to conduct an end run around the attorney general and present a report to Congress on his own, he might choose to follow the Jaworski model of having a grand jury file a presentment with a court and seek that court’s authorization to send the presentment on to Congress. That tactic isn’t required or forbidden by the current special counsel regulations.

Fitzgerald’s public explanation of what his investigation found came almost entirely through the indictment and trial of L. Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. ‘ data-reactid=”51″>Fitzgerald’s public explanation of what his investigation found came almost entirely through the indictment and trial of L. Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

There’s a possibility Robert Mueller agrees with Fitzgerald’s approach, and will continue to speak publicly only in indictments and trial materials. If so, the big question will be whether one or more of those indictments names the occupant of the Oval Office as an unindicted co-conspirator. ‘ data-reactid=”53″>There’s a possibility Robert Mueller agrees with Fitzgerald’s approach, and will continue to speak publicly only in indictments and trial materials. If so, the big question will be whether one or more of those indictments names the occupant of the Oval Office as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Whitaker did not respond to a request for comment.  ‘ data-reactid=”55″>Whitaker did not respond to a request for comment.  

President-elect Donald Trump greets Rudy Giuliani at the clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster Township, N.J. on Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

While Giuliani’s profile has seemingly diminished of late, those close to the president’s legal team denied the ex-mayor had been relieved of duty. ‘ data-reactid=”68″>While Giuliani’s profile has seemingly diminished of late, those close to the president’s legal team denied the ex-mayor had been relieved of duty.

However, a separate source familiar with the situation said Trump was unhappy with Giuliani’s handling of written questions the president’s attorneys received from Mueller and his associates. ‘ data-reactid=”70″>However, a separate source familiar with the situation said Trump was unhappy with Giuliani’s handling of written questions the president’s attorneys received from Mueller and his associates.

Thus far, Trump’s legal team has been working with Mueller. A source familiar with the deliberations of the president’s attorney’s indicated they didn’t expect Trump would do anything to quash the probe.‘ data-reactid=”72″>Thus far, Trump’s legal team has been working with Mueller. A source familiar with the deliberations of the president’s attorney’s indicated they didn’t expect Trump would do anything to quash the probe.

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