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Washington awaits results after Mueller wraps Russia probe

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    An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington, Friday, March 22, 2019. Special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with associates of President Donald Trump. The Justice Department says Mueller delivered his final report to Attorney Barr, who is reviewing it. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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    President Donald Trump talks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation, ending a probe that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency with no new charges but launching a fresh wave of political battles over the still-confidential findings. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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    Attorney General William Barr carries his briefcase as he arrives at home in McLean, Va., on Friday evening, March 22, 2019. Special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with associates of President Donald Trump. The Justice Department says Mueller delivered his final report to Barr. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

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    FILE - In this May 19, 2017 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures to supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been in self imposed exile since 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

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    FILE - In this July 2, 2015, file photo, Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska attends Independence Day celebrations at Spaso House, the residence of the American Ambassador, in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

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    FILE - In this July 4, 2017 file photo, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin is shown prior to a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP, File)

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    FILE - In this May 4, 2018, file photo, Donald Trump Jr., waves from the stage at the National Rifle Association in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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    FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2019, file photo, former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

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    FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2018, file photo, a view of Trump Tower, left, on New York’s Fifth Avenue. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Published March 23. 2019 06:57AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller closed his long and contentious Russia investigation with no new charges, ending the probe that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency. The Justice Department was expected to release the main findings as soon as Saturday.

Even with the details still under wraps, the end Friday of the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump’s orbit who had feared a final round of charges could ensnare more Trump associates, including members of the president’s family.

For now, the report is accessible to only a handful of Justice Department officials while Attorney General William Barr prepared to release the “principal findings” soon.

The Justice Department said the report was delivered by a security officer Friday afternoon to the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and then it went to Barr. Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.

The next step is up to Barr, who is charged with writing his own account of Mueller’s findings and sending it to Congress. In a letter to lawmakers , he declared he was committed to transparency and speed. He said he could provide details as soon as this weekend.

The White House sought to keep some distance from the report, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the document. Trump, surrounded by advisers and political supporters at his resort in Florida, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

With no details released at this point, it’s not known whether Mueller’s report answers the core questions of his investigation: Did Trump’s campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of the celebrity businessman? Also, did Trump take steps later, including by firing his FBI director, to obstruct the probe?

But the delivery of the report does mean the investigation has concluded without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia, or of obstruction by the president. A Justice Department official confirmed that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments.

That person, who described the document as “comprehensive,” was not authorized to discuss the probe and asked for anonymity.

That’s good news for a handful of Trump associates and family members dogged by speculation of possible wrongdoing. They include Donald Trump Jr., who had a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 election campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller’s prosecutors. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mueller might have referred additional investigations to the Justice Department.

All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet. Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

It’s unclear what steps Mueller might take if he uncovered what he believes to be criminal wrongdoing by Trump, in light of Justice Department legal opinions that have held that sitting presidents may not be indicted.

In his letter to lawmakers, Barr noted the Justice Department had not denied any request from the special counsel, something Barr would have been required to disclose to ensure there was no political inference. Trump was never interviewed in person, but submitted answers to questions in writing.

The mere delivery of the confidential findings set off swift, full-throated demands from Democrats for full release of Mueller’s report and the supporting evidence collected during the sweeping probe. As Mueller’s probe has wound down, Democrats have increasingly shifted their focus to their own investigations, ensuring the special counsel’s would not be the last word on the matter.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared it “imperative” to make the full report public, a call echoed by several Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020.

“The American people have a right to the truth,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.

Democrats also expressed concern that Trump would try to get a “sneak preview” of the findings.

“The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” they said in a joint statement.

It was not clear whether Trump would have early access to Mueller’s findings. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders suggested the White House would not interfere, saying “we look forward to the process taking its course.” But Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told The Associated Press Friday that the legal team would seek to get “an early look” before they were made public.

Giuliani said it was “appropriate” for the White House to be able “to review matters of executive privilege.” He said had received no assurances from the Department of Justice on that front. He later softened his stance, saying the decision was “up to DOJ and we are confident it will be handled properly.”

The White House did receive a brief heads-up on the report’s arrival Friday. Barr’s chief of staff called White House Counsel Emmet Flood Friday about 20 minutes before sending the letter went to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary committees.

The chairman of the Senate panel, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, was keynote speaker Friday night at a Palm Beach County GOP dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Early in the evening, the president appeared on a balcony to wave at the crowd of more than 600 enjoying cocktails and appetizers by the pool, according to party vice-chairwoman Tami Donnally, who attended the event.

Barr has said he wants to make as much public as possible, but any efforts to withhold details is sure to prompt a tussle between the Justice Department and lawmakers who may subpoena Mueller and his investigators to testify before Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., threatened a subpoena Friday.

Such a move would likely be vigorously contested by the Trump administration.

The conclusion of Mueller’s investigation does not remove legal peril for the president . Trump faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election. He’s also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Trump asked him to arrange the transactions. Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president’s inaugural committee.

No matter the findings in Mueller’s report, the investigation has already illuminated Russia’s assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

The special counsel brought a sweeping indictment accusing Russian military intelligence officers of hacking Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic groups during the 2016 campaign. He charged another group of Russians with carrying out a large-scale social media disinformation campaign against the American political process that also sought to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

Mueller also initiated the investigation into Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, who pleaded guilty in New York to campaign finance violations arising from the hush money payments and in the Mueller probe to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. Another Trump confidant, Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails ultimately released by WikiLeaks.

Mueller has also been investigating whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation. Since the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017, Trump has increasingly tried to undermine the probe by calling it a “witch hunt” and repeatedly proclaiming there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia.

But one week before Mueller’s appointment, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, later saying he was thinking of “this Russia thing” at the time.

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Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.

Comments
RUK you, my little punk, miss the whole point, as always. After 675 days of investigation and $25 Million expenditure there is no evidence of “Russian collusion” on behalf of President Trump. This all was a hoax because haters like you, RUK, hated Trump. As the subject of “Fake News” all day long, just because haters didn’t like the outcome of a legitimate election. Rest assured, there will be charges...against those who dreamed up this villainous coup against President Trump. MAGA!
Whine, Whine. Whine. Go ask your mom for some midol Becky. Get used to it you're gonna be a woman for long time. ⊥rump is a thief, ⊥rump is a pimp, ⊥rump is traitor.
The only thing better than ⊥rump going to jail? The drooling minions who voted for a dictator going to jail as well.
RUK, my little punk, you miss the whole point...as always. You are a dumb cyber bully. The 675 day investigation exonerates President Trump. You are a vulgar punk. This is the only time to watch CNN & MSNBC. Two years of a setup being erased. Rachel Maddox was crying out of desperation. You, RUK, my little punk, are the same. You are so full of hate you can’t see straight. Go hug your emotional support bunny rabbit. You are ignorant, weak, and pathetic. You should go to jail for being insulting and vulgar. Keep it up. You are on full display. MAGA!
Look folks, once the whole thing is properly investigated, there will be indictments.
Just sit tight. Let Justice do it's thing.
Judgement is coming!
Russia isn't the enemy to be looking at. The enemy is one of a more spiritual nature. The enmey divides, and uses whoever he can. Here's a breaking story everyone should be focused on...
"Rep. Ilhan Omar faces hundreds of protesters outside CAIR fundraiser in California"
Omar has been speaking at fundraisers, spewing antisemitism, and calling our President a
"Mother F _ _ _ er".
She is an advocate of CAIR, which the United Arab Emirates has deemed a terrorist organization. They wish to usher in Sharia Law. This particular event, “Advancing Justice: Empowering Valley Muslims,” was sold out and closed to the public. Those who share her message are increasing, here in the U.S. Evil will try to transform what's good, into bad.
Let's not forget the words of Barack Obama, "Fundamentally Transform America".
Just what did he mean by that?
Sharia Law is antithesis not only to our Constitution, Bill of Rights and Judea Christian Values, but, it is steeped in hatred toward any who do not accept it.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and be watchful to the ways of the world.
Don't forget... God is in control.
Obama and Russia...
As he was leaning toward Medvedev in Seoul, Obama was overheard asking for time — “particularly with missile defense” — until he is in a better position politically to resolve such issues.

“I understand your message about space,” replied Medvedev,

“This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said, expressing confidence that he would win a second term.

“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” said Medvedev, Putin’s protégé and long considered number two in Moscow’s power structure.

The exchange, parts of it inaudible, was monitored by a White House pool of television camera's and microphones. TRUE! Look it up

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