Washington is bracing for the release of the Mueller Special Counsel report Thursday, with Republicans and Democrats posturing for what happens next.
The White House is planning to release a 35-page counter-report, according to Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn. According to Samuelson, President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani texted him at 2:54 a.m. that the counter-report was “now at 34 or 35” pages. “The more concise the better. 400 pages is a novel.”
Some legal experts who did not want to speak on the record say they expect the president will not have much to fear, despite the report being nearly 400 pages long. Those who know Special Counsel Robert Mueller say that he is thorough and exhaustive and will likely detail all his investigative steps, and that some of it will be already public information, such as parts of previous sentencing memos stemming from earlier indictments.
Nor do they expect anything particularly explosive to come from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s reasoning on why he did not make a decision on whether the president obstructed justice. There was allegedly disagreement by at least one member on whether to exonerate the president of obstruction, leading Mueller to not take a decision either way.
In addition, Attorney General William Barr has suggested it would be clear from the report why he decided to clear the president of obstruction, based on Mueller’s findings, and has already agreed to testify after the report comes out about his decision.
Giuliani also told the Daily Beast on Wednesday that he has zero concerns about the report, but said he suspected that Mueller’s team may pepper it with “snide comments.” Ty Cobb, the former White House lawyer who oversaw the president’s response to the Special Counsel investigation, also told the Daily Beast he does not expect to be surprised by the findings either.
But, he said, “It will not surprise me if people seize on otherwise inconsequential things to perpetuate whatever conspiracy theory they’re attached to.”
“Democrats are going to comb through this report, and they’re going to throw all that out there, and it’s not going to matter that Mueller found no evidence,” predicted Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Tuesday.
“I just think that everybody needs to be aware that that is coming, because that’s how it’s going to be spun,” she said.
Former federal prosecutor and National Review editor Andrew McCarthy agreed. “We’re going to get 400 pages of almost-collusion, almost-obstruction…flip to the last page, and there’s nothing,” he said on “Hannity.”
Republicans expect Democrats to seize on any redactions in the report, and are pointing out ahead of time that the Special Counsel team helped to make those redactions.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday: “Democrats are already planning to accuse AG Barr of hiding something in the Mueller report. But remember — Mueller’s team is working directly with Barr on the redaction process. Don’t fall for the Democrats’ lies.”
Democrats are already planning to accuse AG Barr of hiding something in the Mueller report.
But remember – Mueller’s team is working directly with Barr on the redaction process.
Don’t fall for the Democrats’ lies.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) April 17, 2019
A day before, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) tweeted a similar warning: “Important for this week: Democrats will predictably try to seize on redactions within the Mueller report and accuse Bill Bar of hiding something. Remember the Special Counsel and his team are directly HELPING with the redaction process.”
“Don’t buy the spin,” he added.
Democrats have already begun efforts to receive the report without redactions. Last Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter to Barr arguing that Congress was entitled to see the full report without redactions. Democrats on the committee have also authorized Nadler to issue a subpoena for the report, which is expected to prompt a lengthy court battle.
Barr testified last week to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that under current Justice Department guidelines for special counsel investigations put in place during the Clinton investigation, he does not have to release the report at all. But he has said he will release the report anyway, but after redacting four categories of sensitive information.
Those categories are anything that was obtained during grand jury proceedings, anything that would compromise intelligence methods and sources, anything that would interfere with ongoing court proceedings in spin-off cases, and anything that would be embarrassing to those not indicted and peripheral to the investigation.
Barr has also emphasized that the Special Counsel team and the intelligence community were helping to make the redactions, and that he would work with members of Congress to address concerns over particular redactions.
Ken Starr, who led a special counsel probe into the Clinton administration and who is now a Fox News analyst, predicted a period of “enormous frustration and acrimony” from Democrats.
“We’re about to enter a period of enormous frustration and acrimony — ‘Why was this redacted? OK, there’s an explanation here, I don’t like that explanation,” he said on Fox News on Tuesday.
“I think it’d be helpful in terms of public education and confidence in the administration of justice for the attorney general — who’s very able, very honest, simply to explain — stand in the Great Hall of the Justice Department and say, ‘Here’s what I did, here’s the process we went through. I think it would be very helpful.”