A handful of leading Democrat lawmakers and their aides told Politico off-the-record that they believe special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election will be “a dud.”
Reporters Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman wrote in Friday’s edition of their Politico Playbook newsletter: “If you talk to Capitol Hill Democrats privately, you will hear something surprising about what they expect from Robert Mueller: Many of them expect absolutely nothing. Several top Democratic lawmakers and aides tell us privately that they are certain the report will be a dud.”
As America waits for Mueller’s report, some observers are saying anyone looking for a grand narrative on President Trump, Russian election interference and all the juicy details uncovered over the past 22 months could end up disappointed.
The exact timing of Mueller’s endgame is unclear. Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the inquiry into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election. However, during his confirmation hearing last month, Barr said he ultimately will decide what the public sees, and that any report will be in his words, not Mueller’s.
Mueller will have to turn in a report of some kind when he’s done and it could be bare-bones when it comes to details.
Justice Department regulations require only that Mueller give the attorney general a confidential report that explains the decisions to pursue or decline prosecutions. That could be as simple as a bullet point list or as fulsome as a report running hundreds of pages.
Mueller has given no guidance on what or when it will be, but signs a conclusion is coming soon have mounted in recent months.
Matthew Whitaker, who was acting attorney general before Barr was confirmed, said in January that the investigation is nearly done. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, has been preparing to leave his post soon. The number of prosecutors working for Mueller has dwindled, and his team, which had sought an interview with the president, has not had meaningful dialogue with President Trump’s lawyers in months.
Mueller also hasn’t filed any new cases in two months. ABC News’ Jon Karl, citing sources familiar with the Mueller probe, reported Thursday that it is likely no more indictments will come from the special counsel.
Meanwhile, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has raised the prospect of subpoenaing the report and calling Mueller before Congress to ask him about his findings. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has echoed Nadler’s proposal.
Democrats also want all of Mueller’s underlying evidence, including interview transcripts and documents.
Schiff has warned that he is watching Barr’s moves carefully to see if he were “to try to bury any part of this report.” He has also said anything less than complete disclosure would leave Barr with “a tarnished legacy.”
Appearing on CNN in February, the California Democrat signaled Democrats may even decide that Mueller’s probe had not gone far enough to uncover collusion. “We’re going to have to do our own investigation, and we are. We’ll certainly be very interested to learn what Bob Mueller finds. We may have to fight to get that information,” he told host Dana Bash. “Bill Barr has not been willing to commit to provide that report either to the Congress or to the American people. We’re going to need to see it. The American people need to see it. We may also need to see the evidence behind that report. There may be, for example, evidence of collusion or conspiracy that is clear and convincing but not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Many Republicans have also argued that the full report should be released. The House voted 420-0 this month for a resolution calling for any final report to be made public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.