As President Donald Trump publicly boasts that special counsel Robert Mueller’s anticipated 400-page report “totally exonerated” him, White House officials are completing a counter-report that rebuts its findings.
The Department of Justice is preparing to release a redacted version of the special counsel’s report on Thursday morning. The report is the result of a two-year investigation into whether the president’s campaign played a role in Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Last month, Attorney General William Barr released a four-page memo relaying Mueller’s team did not find the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but did not exonerate him of obstructing justice.
The White House has been briefed “in broad-brush strokes” on the report and it will not invoke executive privilege to get further redactions, ABC News reported Sunday.
Despite all this, Trump’s legal team has been working on a counter-report for months, which will attack the legitimacy of the investigation and focus on obstruction of justice claims the special counsel lays out in his report, according to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The counter-report is reportedly 140 pages long, and Giuliani said the team is trying to cut it down to around 50 pages.
That’s a huge about-face from when Barr first released his summary of the Mueller memo.
When it was released last month, Trump administration officials and conservative backers celebrated the president’s exoneration and attacked reporters, Democrats, and members of the public who were vocal about the evidence suggesting the president colluded with Russia.
“The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared in a statement on Twitter. “Barr and [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway also said, “it’s not premature for the president to say he’s exonerated and vindicated.”
But just days away from the redacted release of the actual report, White House officials are bracing for its findings and the president has once again renewed his attacks on the legitimacy of the investigation.
The Mueller Report, which was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax. That is, never forget, the crime…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
After a week of criticism over his memo, Barr sent a letter to Congress insisting that his first summary of the report was not actually a summary.
“The Special Counsel… did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” Barr wrote in the letter on the Mueller report. “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ ”