Special counsel Robert Mueller has turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency.
- The report will now be reviewed by the Attorney-General, who could release his account to Congress in a matter of days
- It is largely up to him as to what to make public from Mr Mueller’s report
- The investigation has ensnared key figures including Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and national security adviser Michael Flynn
The report, still confidential, marks the end of Mr Mueller’s probe but sets the stage for big public fights to come.
The next steps are up to Mr Trump’s Attorney-General, to Congress and, in all likelihood, federal courts.
The Justice Department said Mr Mueller delivered his final report to Attorney-General William Barr and officially concluded his probe of Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates.
The report will now be reviewed by Mr Barr, who has said he will write his own account communicating Mr Mueller’s findings to Congress and the American public.
Mr Barr said he could release his account to Congress as soon as this weekend.
“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,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, the Attorney-General must share an outline of Mr Mueller’s report with Democratic and Republican leaders of the judiciary committees in Congress.
But it is largely up to him what to make public.
“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Mr Barr told politicians in a letter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — the two top Democrats in Congress — said it was “imperative” that the full report be made public and that the White House played no role in determining what is released.
“The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency,” they said in a joint statement.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr Mueller was not recommending any further indictments.
The big question
The Russia investigation has cast a shadow over Mr Trump’s presidency and ensnared key figures, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and national security adviser Michael Flynn, who already have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mr Mueller.
The big question now is whether the report contains allegations of wrongdoing by Mr Trump himself.
Mr Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mr Mueller of conflicts of interest.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Mr Trump.
Mr Mueller’s investigators have looked into a large number of contacts between people associated with Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia such as a meeting in New York’s Trump Tower between members of the President’s inner circle, including his eldest son, and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer five months before the election.
Mr Mueller sought to determine whether the campaign coordinated with Moscow, though it was not immediately clear whether the special counsel found evidence of a conspiracy.
Mr Mueller also examined whether Mr Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to hinder the investigation, looking into acts such as urging FBI director James Comey to drop a probe of Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russia, the subsequent firing of Mr Comey, his attacks on the special counsel, dangling of pardons for former aides and the ousting of former attorney-general Jeff Sessions.
Mr Mueller has brought charges against 34 people, including Russian intelligence officers, and three Russian companies, including one described as a “troll farm”.