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US Special Counsel submits final report on Russia investigation to Justice Department

Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (James Ledbetter/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his long-awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

A letter signed by Attorney General William Barr and released by the Justice Department on March 22 confirmed that Mueller’s report had been received.

The letter, addressed to several top lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives, quotes Barr as saying that he could inform Congress of its principal conclusions “as soon as this weekend.”

How much of the report is released publicly is now up to Barr, the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House.

Mueller was required by law to submit the report at the conclusion of his investigation, and Barr has said previously that he wanted to make much of it public. In the letter, Barr said that he remains “committed to as much transparency as possible.”

But the law gives Barr wide discretion on how much of the report to release, and there have been fears in Congress that Trump’s White House may seek to hide its most damning contents.

“We want the full report, we want it now. We want it before the president is able to make any edits,” Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat, said on CNN.

The House of Representatives earlier this month voted 420-0 to demand Mueller’s report be made public — an usually strong, bipartisan statement from lawmakers.

On March 22, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrats in Congress, said it was “imperative” that the full report be made public and that the White House play no role in determining what is released.

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

In a Twitter post, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said White House officials had not yet received or been briefed on the report.

“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” Sanders said.

Since 2017, Mueller has been examining both Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and interactions between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian officials.

Mueller has also been examining whether Trump unlawfully tried to obstruct justice by trying to hinder his investigation, reviewing actions such as the president’s urging of FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe into contacts between Trump’s first national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Russia, as well as his subsequent firing of Comey.

Over the course of his probe, Mueller has indicted more than three dozen people and entities on various charges. The individuals include Flynn; Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; and a longtime informal adviser to Trump, Roger Stone.

To date, however, none of the charges directly address the question of whether there was coordination between Trump officials and Russian officials.

Mueller has also targeted a dozen Russian military intelligence, as part of a plot to hack into computers of the Democratic political officials, as well as a company known informally as Russia’s “troll factory,” for spreading misinformation on social-media networks.

Mueller’s probe has infuriated Trump, and he has repeatedly called it investigation “a witch hunt,” denying all allegations that he sought to collude with Russian officials.

Russia has also denied the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that it engaged in a cyber-and-propaganda effort during the 2016 campaign, aimed at undermining the U.S. electoral process, discrediting Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, and bolstering Trump’s bid for the presidency.

Mueller’s investigation has also led to several other criminal cases being filed outside his jurisdiction, notably against Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.