The White House may attempt to use executive privilege to block parts of Robert Mueller findings. According to the Hill, unnamed sources claim that the president is looking into ways to conceal elements of the report from Congress — and the public.
Robert Mueller is expected to submit his findings on claims surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign within the next few months — as early as February according to some accounts. Now that Democrats control the House, they have been clear that they will request the opportunity to review the report, and also that they intend to show the findings to the public.
Federal regulations mandate that the report be released to department leaders, not to Congress or the public, and Trump and his lawyers expect to review the report in advance. According to President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the White House is reserving the right to determine if parts of it can be withheld under a claim of executive privilege.
“We will look at it and see if the president thinks there is a valid claim and if there is, do we want to make it,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We reserve the right. We don’t know if we have to, but we haven’t waived.”
He also added that he would be willing to legally challenge the report in order to keep it from public view, if things came to that. Whether that is necessary is partially up to the Attorney General. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker — and Trump’s nominee, William Barr — have both expressed criticism of the Mueller investigation.
Trump has appeared to be concerned with the Mueller investigation, judging by his frequent tweets as regards the matter. After Michael Cohen’s sentencing, the president said that the filings “cleared the president.”
Totally clears the President. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
“On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever. The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign. You should ask Hillary Clinton about Russia,” he wrote in a Twitter post made on the same day.
Trump’s critics deny that he has been exonerated, claiming that documents related to the Cohen case showed even further evidence of contact between Trump campaign leaders and Russian connections.
White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, John Dean, told Bloomberg that if the president were to claim executive privilege, it wouldn’t be a solid legal strategy. It could, however, be an effective stalling tactic — one that could tie up the report for years.
In such an eventuality, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the information would be buried. Congress could press Mueller to testify about his findings.