Newly-appointed Attorney General William Barr is preparing an announcement as early as next week about the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, sources have told CNN. CNN cited unnamed “people familiar with the plans” in their coverage of the apparently forthcoming announcement.
This is the strongest indication so far that Muller’s investigation may be nearing completion. The investigation has been ongoing since May of 2017 and may have included in its scope possible coordination between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia, as well as obstruction of justice following multiple actions by the president aimed at undermining the probe itself.
What, specifically, will be delivered by Mueller is unclear. Further, it will be up to the Justice Department to determine what, if anything, will be compiled for submission to Congress following a Justice Department review. It is also unclear who in the Justice Department will have access, as Barr has previously characterized such investigative reports as being directed to the attorney general alone, suggesting additional audiences for the information may be widely at Barr’s own discretion.
Trump, who is scheduled to be overseas next week when the report could potentially land, reaffirmed that Barr will be largely in control of what happens after the report is delivered.
“That’ll be totally up to the new attorney general. He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department, so that’ll be totally up to him,” Trump told reporters.
Neither the Justice Department nor the special counsel’s office has yet commented.
Mueller’s work has largely carried on in secrecy, with very little in the way of leaks or official statements from the special counsel’s office. There has been a recent trickle of evidence that a conclusion could be approaching as individuals have rolled off of Mueller’s team and some special counsel employees have recently been spotted transporting file boxes, a move that could represent an upcoming transfer of paperwork related to the case.
In another potential hint of a wind-down, Mueller’s grand jury that has been used to return indictments of the likes of Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and several Russians has been apparently inactive since the January 24 charges against Stone, suggesting the possible conclusion of Mueller indictments.
Charges and other activity will doubtlessly continue through other offices and in other jurisdictions, many at the direction or request of the special counsel’s office. The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office, for example, could carry on work for certain aspects of prosecution even after Mueller’s involvement has ended.