Immediately following the breaking news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had completed his investigation, President Trump’s Twitter feed was uncharacteristically quiet. A president who has insisted with enthusiasm that Mueller’s investigation was a politically-motivated witch hunt remained silent on the topic, even as politicians and commentators on both sides of the aisle rushed to spin the news in their own favor.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, however, did comment publicly on the report, acknowledging that it is now the responsibility of the attorney general to decide if and how the contents of the report will move forward.
“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,” Sanders tweeted.
The response from the White House came following a publicly released letter from Barr, who addressed congressional leaders indicating that, as the law requires, he would provide them with a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions as early as this weekend, as reported by CNN.
Barr pledged “as much transparency as possible” in the process, as the eyes of so many now turn to the attorney general to see whether he will shield the report’s findings, open them to the public, or take some path in between.
As attorney general, Barr is alone in control of the dissemination of the report and with the Mueller investigation looming so large during his confirmation hearing for attorney general, many have expressed worry about how he might handle the report.
Largely driving these concerns was a memo written by Barr which described an expansive view of presidential power that was put a president within his or her rights to shut down an investigation such as this altogether. The memo’s subject line was “Mueller’s ‘Obstruction’ Theory.”
17 AGs have joined our call to urge US Attorney General William Barr to release the Mueller report to the public.
Our joint statement: pic.twitter.com/JdDaYIdjhL
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) March 23, 2019
Barr shed further light into his thinking on such topics during his confirmation hearing, when he was asked specifically about these issues.
“There are different reports at work here,” Barr said at the time. “Under the current regulations, the special counsel report is confidential, and the report that goes public would be a report by the attorney general.”
Barr’s statement leaves open the possibility that Congress, to say nothing of the public, could be kept out of the loop entirely from Mueller’s full report and rather would receive some form of summary alone, produced by Barr himself.
Nonetheless, during his confirmation hearings, Barr insisted that he would not allow political motivations to influence his actions.