Official Washington is focused primarily today on the release of a redacted version of a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed almost two years ago by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 elections, a probe which has generated fierce criticism since the outset by President Donald Trump and many of his political allies.
There are two parts to the report - Volume 1 covers questions about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Volume 2 covers matters related to possible obstruction of justice by the President on the Russia probe.
Here's where we stand:
+ 1:20 pm - The Mueller report raises the specter that associates of the Trump campaign and/or allies of the President may have deleted emails and other electronic evidence, which impeded the Mueller investigation.
+ 1:10 pm - While the Special Counsel was never able to get an in-person interview with the President, this report does include his written answers to questions submitted by the Mueller legal team.
+ 1:00 pm - The report goes into a lot of detail about the interactions between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, which ultimately resulted in Comey's firing in May of 2017.
CONFIRMED, by Mueller (Vol II, pg. 67): May 8, 2017 - The president directed Rosenstein to write a letter recommending that Comey be fired.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) April 18, 2019
Days earlier, the president had already written *his* letter firing Comey.
+ 12:50 pm - While Attorney General Barr talked earlier today of all the cooperation that the White House had provided in the investigation, the Mueller reports paints a different picture, especially when it comes to the question of getting testimony from President Trump. The Special Counsel's office determined that an effort to subpoena the President would require an enormous amount of legal effort and time, even though simple written responses from President Trump were viewed as insufficient. “We viewed the written answers to be inadequate,” the report stated.
+ 12:30 pm - The report details a number of contacts and calls made by the President to top intelligence officials, asking for their help in refuting the Trump-Russia story. Top officials at the National Security Agency were so alarmed that they immediately wrote out a memo after the conversation, and put it in a safe. Like White House aides, intelligence officials basically ignored the President's demand for help.
+ 12:10 pm - The Mueller report basically says that because top aides to the President consistently refused to carry out his orders to rein in - or even terminate - the Russia investigation, they saved the President from committing illegal acts, and obstruction of justice.
+ 12:00 pm - As mentioned earlier, President Trump had ordered his White House Counsel to fire Robert Mueller. Don McGahn had refused. Months later, the issue surfaced in the press, and the Mueller report says the President then demanded that McGahn deny the reports. McGahn refused.
+ 11:55 am - The Mueller report says President Trump personally intervened to change a statement from his son, Donald Trump, Jr., about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, deleting a reference to how the meeting was to offer information about Hillary Clinton, and instead saying the meeting was about adoption policies.
+ 11:50 am - After telling the White House Counsel to fire Mueller in June of 2017, President Trump kept pressing aides to help limit the Russia probe. He asked Corey Lewandowski to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to publicly declare the Russia probe, “very unfair.” Lewandowski said he would do that, but refused - and tried to get another aide to do the same thing, who also refused.
+ 11:40 am - As the Mueller report was being released, President Trump was making comments about it during a White House event with wounded warriors.
+ 11:35 am - In testimony from White House Counsel Don McGahn, the Mueller report spells out how President Trump ordered his top lawyer to fire the Special Counsel in 2017, once stories emerged that the President was under investigation for possible obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation.
+ 11:30 am - A reminder in the report from the Special Counsel that a number of people connected to the Trump campaign lied about their contacts during and after the election when questioned by the feds.
+ 11:25 am - Here is the conclusion of Special Counsel Mueller when it comes to whether President Trump should have been charged with Obstruction of Justice:
+ 11:20 am - While there were indications the report was 'lightly redacted,' that's not the case in some areas, where entire pages were blacked out.
+ 11:10 am - The redactions give us little new information on links between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks.
+ 11:06 am - The first redaction is in the table of contents, dealing with materials linked to Wikileaks and the Trump Campaign.
+ 11:00 am - Don't forget, this report is not just about President Trump. It also will spill into the race among Democrats to try to replace him.
Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation's Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda.⁰ ⁰Americans deserve the unvarnished truth. We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 18, 2019
+ 10:55 am - My ten year old kid asks me, “Have they released the Mueller report yet?” Soon, I tell him.
+ 10:50 am - President Trump's scheduled 10:30 am event with Wounder Warriors at the White House still has not started. With the Mueller report scheduled to be delivered to Congress at 11 am, it will be interesting to see if the President is speaking at that moment. A President has the power to dominate the airwaves in a way that no other person can in the United States.
+ 10:45 am - As we await the exact details of the Mueller report, it is a good time to remember how important actual documents are in any investigation, and how politicians deal with public discussion of that material. This from one House Democrat from Florida:
This morning, the attorney general of the United States told us there are at least ten potential instances of obstruction of justice that were investigated.— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) April 18, 2019
We’ll take it from here, thanks.
+ 10:40 am - Donald Trump Jr. did not mention his initial reaction to the offer of 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton, which he welcomed.
+ 10:35 am - President Trump's son is echoing the declarations of his father as the Mueller report is released.
+ 10:30 am - Democrats are furious about the news conference of Attorney General Barr, claiming it was nothing more than Barr acting like President Trump's defense lawyer.
+ 10:25 am - Not long after the Attorney General said he had no opposition to the idea, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are now officially asking for public testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings. We are now requesting Mueller to appear before @HouseJudiciary as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/Mmo6PA4KPt— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 18, 2019
+ 10:20 am - Here is how the Barr news conference ended.
Reporter: "Is it an impropriety for you to come out and sort of, what appears to be, sort of, spinning the report before the public gets a chance to read it?"— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) April 18, 2019
Barr says "no," and then the news conference ends. https://t.co/zGVxY5iL8T pic.twitter.com/14QrPYbG7n
+ 10:15 am - The Trump White House is ready for today. This was tweeted out soon after the end of the Barr news conference.
+ 10:10 am - Even on Fox News, there were not universally good reviews for the Attorney General.
Chris Wallace on Fox: "The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the Attorney General, talking about his motives, his emotions... Really, as I say, making a case for the president."— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) April 18, 2019
+ 10:05 am - Here's some of the Attorney General's news conference.
+ 10:00 am - The news conference ends on a somewhat testy note, as the Attorney General sparred with reporters over how he characterized the impact of the investigation on President Trump, labeling the probe an 'unprecedented situation.'
+ 9:55 am - Barr says he has no opposition to the idea of Special Counsel Mueller testifying before Congress.
+ 9:50 am - Barr confirms that the President's legal team was allowed to see the Mueller report before Congress.
+ 9:40 am - In his news conference, the Attorney General keeps repeating a main theme over and over again - that there was no collusion or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. “The Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy,” Barr says. “So, that's the bottom line.”
+ 9:35 am - Attorney General William Barr says the redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be delivered to Congress at 11 am, and then it will be posted on line for the public to read.
+ 9:25 am - As we wait for the news conference of Attorney General William Barr, Democrats are denouncing Barr, ridiculing his decision to hold this session with reporters before the report is even released.
AG Barr’s handling of the #MuellerReport has been regrettably partisan, including his slanted 3/24 summary letter, irresponsible testimony before Congress, & indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference today—hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 18, 2019
Holding a press conference BEFORE releasing sanitized version of #MuellerReport & AFTER briefing POTUS only is a sad day for the rule of law. AG #Barr's politicization of the DOJ is a stain on its historical role as a neutral enforcer of our nation's laws.https://t.co/EyOMFdSvoR— Rep. Joe Courtney (@RepJoeCourtney) April 18, 2019
+ 9:20 am - President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is making his own noise today, saying he's ready to fill in any of the blanks left by redactions in the Mueller report. Cohen's lawyer - Lanny Davis - was emphasizing the same as well.
As the #Country waits for the #MuellerReport, know this...it does not matter how #Barr #RedactedMuellerReport. @MichaelCohen212 has 7 days, 70 hours, + 100 pages of what #TeamMueller knows and can fill in the bulk of the redactions. Nice try Mr. @POTUS. #Truth We will tell it all— Lanny Davis (@LannyDavis) April 18, 2019
+ 9:10 am - A quick reminder of what we know so far about the Russia investigation. We know the basics already from the charges brought - or not brought by the Special Counsel. Russian intelligence agents hacked Democratic Party emails and documents, and gave them to Wikileaks during the campaign. There were numerous contacts between Russians and people affiliated with the Trump campaign, both before and after the elections. But we also know that no indictments were ever returned for any Trump-Russia conspiracy, or collusion.
+ 9:05 am - Congress is not in session this week, but the miracle of social media will make it very easy for lawmakers to weigh in on today's events as they transpire. Republicans are backing the President, while Democrats are raising questions about the actions of Attorney General William Barr, who is scheduled to hold a news conference at 9:30, before the release of the report.
Trump Derangement Syndrome growing more rapid by the moment.— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) April 18, 2019
After nearly two years of investigations into how our country was attacked by Russians, the American public deserves to hear from Robert Mueller. We don't need more spin from AG Barr. #MuellerReport— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) April 18, 2019
+ 9:00 am - It's been a busy morning on Twitter for President Trump, who has been again voicing his displeasure with the Mueller investigation, and re-tweeting items related to Hillary Clinton and the investigation of her emails from her time as Secretary of State.