After an earlier report on Fox News claimed that Attorney General William Barr would release the first information from the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his team’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as early as this afternoon based on information leaked to them by a White House insider, a senior Justice Department official announced that the Attorney General would not be releasing any information about Mueller’s conclusions today, The Washington Post reported.
According to the newspaper, Barr was holed up at the Justice Department offices on Saturday morning — along with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein who has supervised Mueller’s inquiry since it was launched — reviewing the report and determining what to include in their summary of conclusions to provide to Congress.
“They’re working basically hand in hand,” along with their key advisors, the Justice Department official said.
Reportedly, Barr spent yesterday afternoon and early evening in his fifth-floor office at the Justice Department reading Mueller’s final report — which was described by one Justice Department official as a “comprehensive” document.
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When Barr informed the ranking members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees of the delivery of the Special Counsel’s report by letter yesterday afternoon, he wrote that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions” as early as this weekend.
It now looks like the earliest that anyone beyond a small inner circle at the Justice Department will see the report’s conclusions will be tomorrow, although even that may be an overly optimistic estimate if anyone from the White House legal team decides to invoke executive privilege to prevent the release of portions of the document.
As both Congress and the nation have their patience tested while the AG and his team review the report to determine what to publicly reveal, efforts to force the Justice Department to reveal all of the contents of the report have already been set in motion, including a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The extent of what Barr is willing to reveal will determine how effective the calls for full disclosure, even from President Trump himself, have been. At least now we know that we will have to wait a while longer to find out how tough the battle to get access to the entire report will be.
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Original reporting by Matt Zapotosky . Devlin Barrett at The Washington Post