By Eliyahu Kamisher and Gretel Johnston
Washington (dpa) – Robert Mueller, the US special counsel that has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, the attorney general said in a letter on Friday.
The move signals the end of an investigation that has dominated headlines and consumed much of President Donald Trump’s time in office for nearly two years.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General William Barr said Mueller has “concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters” and submitted a report to Barr.
Barr added that he is reviewing the report and he may be able to provide details of Mueller’s “principal conclusion” to lawmakers this weekend.
The attorney general said he will determine in consultation with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and Mueller “what other information from the report can be released” to the public and Congress.
“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Barr, who will determine how much of the report to disclose, told lawmakers.
Barr also said that the attorney general or acting attorney general never stopped a proposed action by the special counsel on the determination that it was “inappropriate or unwarranted.” This disclosure, which Barr was required by law to provide, indicates that Trump-appointed Justice Department officials did not interfere with the investigation.
“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.”
Trump has previously said he would be in favour of releasing the report to the public. Before leaving the White House for Florida on Friday he told journalists: “I have no idea about the Mueller report.”
Mueller, a former director of the FBI, was appointed by the Department of Justice nearly two years ago to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as any potential collusion with the Trump campaign.
The appointment came after an outcry over Russian meddling in the election was detailed in an assessment by the US intelligence community in late 2016.
Mueller took over the investigation into Russia’s actions in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a move that raised questions about potential obstruction of justice. Those questions along with any collusion between Russia and Trump campaign associates were at the heart of Mueller’s investigation.
Since the start of the investigation, the president has lambasted the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” and insisted that there has been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.
Congressional committees also are investigating Russian efforts to influence the election.
Mueller used his authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered to indict a number of Trump associates. Among them was Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Manafort was sentenced this month to more than seven years in prison for bank, tax fraud and conspiracy charges and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution and a 50,000 dollar fine.
The convictions involved evading US taxes on millions of dollars in fees Manafort received from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Prosecutors said he then lied to get bank loans when his Ukrainian income dried up, according to the charges.
Manafort still faces a state-level indictment filed in New York in connection with an alleged residential mortgage fraud scheme.
The investigation also resulted in charges against Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as well as Michael Flynn, who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser, and Roger Stone, who served as a campaign adviser.