Special counsel Robert Mueller will make his first public statement with respect to his nearly two-year long Russia investigation later this morning.
Mueller, a former FBI director, hasn’t commented publicly since being appointed special counsel in May 2017 to investigate “any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Since Mueller delivered his report in late March, it has been the subject of partisan dispute in Congress and at the White House.
President Donald Trump has claimed the report exonerates him and his campaign team of “collusion.”
Mueller’s report does not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice charges, and the report concluded that for the purposes of a successful criminal prosecution, it could not be established that Trump campaign associates conspired with Russian officials to sway the election.
The report did say that members of the campaign “deleted relevant communications” that hindered the investigation.
As well, several Trump associates have been ensnared as a result of the investigation or ancillary probes, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Manafort’s second-hand Rick Gates, former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, and low-level foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. They were charged with various offences, with Manafort and Cohen currently in prison.
Former Trump national security adviser MIchael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is said to have co-operated with the Mueller team. A federal judge has set a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to make public unredacted portions of the Mueller report that pertain to Flynn, plus transcripts of Flynn’s calls with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and of a voicemail during which someone connected to Trump referenced Flynn’s co-operation.
Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people. This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth.
Democrats in Congress and a lone House Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, have heavily criticized Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, for a four-page summary he delivered on Mueller’s report as well as for redactions in the report.
The House Democrats have tried to arrange, so far without success, for Mueller to testify publicly.
While Trump first praised Mueller after Barr’s summary was released, the president has more recently returned to a recurring theme, alleging without evidence that the Mueller team was a collection of “angry Democrats,” with the origins of the Russia probe characterized by political bias.