Special counsel report to be released with redactions

Special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation of potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election March 22. The report will be made public but with redactions.

The investigation began two years ago when the U.S. government gathered evidence that a Russian intelligence service hacked into Democratic political organizations and released stolen documents, allegedly in part to help President Donald Trump win the election, according to usatoday.com.

Attorney General William Barr first received the report and summarized it to officials and the public.

The special counsel’s investigation did not find the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Barr.

As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The special counsel’s investigation determined there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to the summary. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States.

The special counsel did not find any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the special counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.

The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to influence the election. The special counsel found that Russian government “actors” successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from people affiliated with the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and dispersed those materials.

Based on these activities, the special counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election.

The special counsel did not find the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.

In the report, the special counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and other professional staff.

The special counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing the use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.

Congress is demanding the full report be released to the public.

Barr said March 29 the Justice Department will release Mueller’s report on the Russian investigation to Congress and the public by mid-April, if not sooner.

He wrote to Congress about Mueller’s topline findings and said his “goal and intent is to release as much of the special counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations and departmental policies,” according to the letter.

Barr gave Congress even more detail about the redaction process, laying out four reasons why portions of what Mueller wrote will be redacted, according to cnn.com. He also assured Congress he’s not sending the Mueller report first to the White House for executive privilege considerations before it is made public.

At least one transparency organization has already sued to make public the Mueller report under the Freedom of Information Act, according to cnn.com.

Among the reasons for redactions, Barr has emphasized to Congress the secrecy of grand jury proceedings. The grand jury rules broadly prohibit information from those proceedings leaking.

Mueller’s report stretches to almost 400 pages, not including the attachments.

Barr told Congress some information in the Mueller report may need to be redacted because of ongoing investigations. At this time, it’s unclear how many of those remain.

Barr also told Congress some of the report may be redacted because the intelligence community may decide it reveals potentially compromising sources and methods. Other redactions will protect the privacy and reputations of “peripheral” players.

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