Special Counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, capping a nearly two-year probe that revealed ties to Moscow and criminal activity by key members of President Donald Trump’s campaign.
But whether Mr. Trump or his circle colluded with the Kremlin to win the election – the key question Mr. Mueller was tasked with answering – remains secret, at least for now.
And the Special Counsel did not lay any further criminal charges, despite speculation that key members of the President’s family may have put themselves in legal jeopardy by attending a meeting to get dirt on the Democrats from Russian sources.
Mr. Mueller submitted his final report to Attorney-General William Barr Friday afternoon. In a message to Congress, Mr. Barr said he would review the information and provide a summary to legislators as soon as this weekend. But he did not commit to releasing any part of the report publicly.
“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Mr. Barr wrote.
Congressional Democrats immediately called on Mr. Barr to make the entire report public. They also demanded he not allow Mr. Trump and his lawyers to vet the document beforehand.
“The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself,” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, told reporters. “The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is ‘transparency.’”
Adam Schiff, chair of the House intelligence committee, warned that he would subpoena Mr. Mueller and others to testify if the report isn’t handed over, setting up a potential showdown with the Trump administration. “We have a right to be informed and we will demand to be informed,” he said on CNN.
Mr. Mueller did not announce any indictments Friday and is not expected to charge anyone else. This will come as a relief to the President’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in June, 2016. Donald Jr. agreed to the meeting on the promise that the lawyer would provide damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that the Kremlin had unearthed. Donald Jr. has subsequently said that the lawyer did not, however, provide anything of substance at the meeting.
The Justice Department maintains that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and Mr. Mueller has not charged Mr. Trump. But depending on the findings of the Special Counsel’s report, Congress could decide to start impeachment proceedings against the President.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly said there was “no collusion” and has tried to undermine Mr. Mueller’s investigation by describing it as a “witch hunt.”
Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller in May, 2017, after Mr. Trump abruptly fired then-FBI director James Comey over what the President described as “this Russia thing.” Mr. Mueller, a Republican and former FBI director, was seen as a neutral lawman who could get to the bottom of the case.
He was charged with determining if President Vladimir Putin’s regime co-ordinated with Mr. Trump’s election campaign and whether the President obstructed justice by putting pressure on and then firing Mr. Comey over the FBI’s probe into the matter.
Mr. Mueller charged 34 people over the past 20 months in cases that revealed the extent of the Kremlin conspiracy to hack the election, the Russian connections of Trump aides and allies and several other crimes.
The Special Counsel accused a Kremlin-connected company, the Internet Research Agency, of running an industrial-scale trolling operation that pushed pro-Trump messages on social media and organized rallies for him during the election. Meanwhile, a Russian military spy agency, the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, hacked Democratic Party computers and released embarrassing e-mails and other internal documents via WikiLeaks.
Two of Mr. Trump’s top campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, admitted to lobbying illegally for the former pro-Putin president of Ukraine and laundering payments from him. Mr. Manafort also shared Trump campaign polling with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russo-Ukrainian political operative suspected of being a GRU spy, and discussed a “Ukrainian peace plan” with him during the campaign.
Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, meanwhile, admitted that he had worked on a plan to build a Trump hotel in Moscow during the campaign and solicited the Kremlin’s help to get the project going. Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to illegally paying off two women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Mr. Trump.
A more junior campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, met with purported Kremlin intermediaries in a bid to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, secretly discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Mr. Mueller also accuses Roger Stone, a long-time friend of Mr. Trump’s, of trying to acquire hacked Democratic Party e-mails from WikiLeaks. Mr. Stone has pleaded not guilty.