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Will the Mueller report be made public?

Will the Mueller report be made public?
Blurb: The day has finally arrived for special counsel Robert Mueller to deliver his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Attorney General William Barr confirmed receipt of the final report late Friday afternoon. Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins join Judy Woodruff to discuss what we know about it so far and what happens next, including the outlook for its public release.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The long-awaited moment is here. Special counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his final report to the Department of Justice.

    As of now, we don't know what's in it. It hasn't been made public. Mueller and his team of prosecutors have been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and any potential links to the Trump campaign.

    Here with me now, our Capitol Hill and our White House correspondents, Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, hello to both of you.

    We have been waiting for this moment.

    Lisa, as I turn to you to hear about how this report was delivered, I want to say that there are now multiple news organizations who are reporting that the special counsel is not recommending any further indictments. So,that is the only detail that we have been made aware of so far.

    But what do we know about the delivery of these documents to the Department of Justice?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Just in the past two hours, Congress received this letter.

    These are the four leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees were notified by the attorney general right there.

    And I want to pull out a couple of quotes from this. One, at the top, you see he wrote: "The special counsel has submitted to me today a confidential report explaining the prosecution of declination decisions."

    And then Attorney General, acting Attorney General Barr writes: "I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel's principal conclusions" — this is important — "as soon as this weekend."

    Also notes there were no instances that the attorney general objected to conclusions, methods or recommendations by Mr. Mueller. The attorney general has the right to review the report and decline to forward prosecutorial recommendations, those kinds of things.

    Here, the attorney general is saying, I had no disagreements like that with Mr. Mueller. And that's very significant, because already we're seeing this on more firm ground, at least in the Justice Department.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Because there were questions about whether there could be, might be interference on the part of the attorney general, who was appointed by President Trump and is overseeing this investigation.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, the White House has word of this. What are they saying?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the White House is so far saying that they are waiting for the next steps.

    But the biggest thing here is that there are no further indictments being recommended. That's a big deal. Allies of the president are saying that that's evidence that this is really a waste of time, that, in two years, they didn't indict anybody for obstructing — for obstructing justice or for colluding with Russia.

    The president has not yet spoken, but I want to turn to a bite that he — interview that he gave to FOX News where he talked about the fact that there's no collusion. He's called it a witch-hunt. But let's hear what he had to say.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I have a deputy appoints a man to write a report on me to make a determination on my presidency? People will not stand for it.

    Now, with all of that being said, for two years, we have gone through this nonsense, because there's no collusion with Russia. You know that better than anybody. And there's no obstruction. They will say, oh, well wait, there was no collusion. That was a hoax, but he obstructed in fighting against the hoax. OK?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Now, sources close to President Trump, and there are reports that he is happy and glad this is over.

    This, of course, has been a two-year cloud over his presidency. After the midterms, when he started talking about what was going to be next and what legislatively he could do with a Democratically-controlled Congress, he started talking about investigations.

    He started talking very quickly about the Mueller probe and about the idea that people were after him and thought that, because he was someone who was not expected to win, that he was not a legitimate president. So he's always looked at the Mueller probe with some really angry eyes.

    But Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, has responded again. We're still waiting for the president to tweet. And if that happens on the air, someone will hopefully tell us.

    But I want to tell — I want to read out Sarah Sanders' tweet, which is "The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr. And we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the special counsel's report."

    They haven't. That means the White House doesn't really know much more than us at this point. I'm told that Secretary Nielsen, which, of course, is the head of the Department of Homeland Security, she was at Trump Hotel. She had no idea that this was coming.

    There are multiple people around the president who really didn't know the timing of this. Just today, I was on the White House lawn. And then we asked the president, when do you think the Mueller report is going to be released? He said, I have no idea.

    I will also turn, though, to another ally of the president, Corey Lewandowski. He's someone who was in the orbit of the president, someone that maybe people thought might get indicted for colluding with Russia. He said: "The witch-hunt is over. Make the report public."

    That echoes what the president has been saying. He said on the lawn at the White House while I was there, this was yesterday, saying that the Mueller report should be released to the public. We don't know if that's going to happen, though.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Important, the point they're making about not knowing when this was coming, what's in it, because they want to make it clear to say to the world, we didn't have anything to do with this. We were independent.

    Lisa, we have seen a letter from the Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, Speaker Pelosi, Chuck Schumer. They are saying make the report entirely public.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    And, in fact, Judy, it's interesting. I have got that statement right here. They're saying, this needs to be — this investigation was focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy. And they write: "The American people have a right to the truth."

    It's notable, Judy, that the House voted 422-0 to say that they believe, that the full House of Representatives believes this report should be released in public. The Senate did not take that vote. Why?

    Senator Lindsey Graham, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, blocked that vote, because he said he has concerns about the Clinton investigation. He was trying to leverage that vote into another new special counsel.

    But the point is, the Senate has not voted on this idea yet. Every Senate statement I see tonight says they would like a public release. Obviously, we see the attorney general, Barr, thinking about this over the weekend, preparing at least to brief leaders, and then decide what he will release to the public. It is his decision.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do we know at this point whether there will be a briefing tonight or when it will happen, other than saying, I hope to have more this weekend?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I do not have that reporting.

    But I would expect that there are staffers on Capitol Hill being briefed tonight. And we do know from leaders, they are saying they expect briefings soon, if not this weekend.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, I was going to say that the president has been saying it should be made public.

    But we don't know. I mean, we don't — we don't know what's going to happen.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The reason why we should take the president saying it should be made public with a large grain of salt is because the president also said he was going to sit down with Robert Mueller.

    He said, I wanted to sit down. I want to sit down with an interview. I want to be able to defend myself.

    In fact, he never did that. Instead, he sent in written statements to a very small number of questions. He did not want to be — talk about Russian collusion and all sorts of other things.

    I also want to read a text, because I'm texting with Rudy Giuliani as we're on air. So, excuse that. But I said, is there any reaction to Mueller not recommending any more indictments? And he wrote: "It sounds like it's over."

    So this is, again, an ally of the president, of course, the president's personal lawyer, saying this is all meaning that we are clear, we're in the clear, that the president, what he's been saying over the last few years, this vindicates him.

    Now, that's really early to say, because we don't exactly know what's in the report, but at least the Trump camp is saying that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

    And, Lisa, back to these reports. Again, multiple news organizations saying it's their information that this Mueller report doesn't recommend any more indictments. There have been indictments. If there aren't any more, if that is borne out to be the case, we don't know whether that includes the president there. We know there's some debate about whether or not a sitting president can be indicted.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's correct. So it's not clear.

    Are there things in this report that raise questions about the president that Democrats will look into further in Congress? It seems that we have known all along that special counsel Mueller has known more than anyone else in Washington about the activities of the Trump campaign and the president himself. What does this report reveal?

    An indictment might not be the only issue here for the president.

    I will raise a summary of what's happened — let's just back up — of what Mueller's done. This investigation, Mueller was appointed 675 days ago, May of 2017. So it's been quite a while, not quite two years.

    And by my count, he has so far indicted — and if, in fact, these — this is the full list of indictments — 34 people as part of this probe. The vast majority of them are Russian nationals. And those have not been — they have not been brought into courts here in the United States. They have been indicted here, while many of them are overseas.

    And then the others — the Americans who have been indicted as part of this, most of them have taken plea deals as part of this as well. Right now, it looks like Paul Manafort may be the person who has the largest sentencing time. Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, they're — we will see what happens with them in future cases as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, of course, these are individuals who have been — had a close relationship with the president.

    All right, Lisa, Yamiche, we're going to ask you to just stand by as we continue to follow these fast moving developments.

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