What's Next Now That Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia Investigation Has Ended

Mar 22, 2019
Originally published on March 22, 2019 8:36 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

We turn now to our national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. She spoke with my co-host Mary Louise Kelly earlier and says it's unclear how much of the Mueller report will be made public.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: The Justice Department is working this weekend to get top-line or principal conclusions by the special counsel to key members of Congress as early as this weekend. I'm hearing from the Justice Department that we, members of the public and the press, may get those top-line conclusions around the same time that Capitol Hill does. As for the underlying evidence and material in this, what I'm told is, comprehensive Mueller report, there is an open question about how much of that we're ever going to see and when.

The Attorney General Bill Barr says he's going to consult with the Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and with Mueller himself. He's said that he wants to be transparent, but he's running up against, he says, laws and Justice Department regulations that generally prohibit releasing a lot of dirty laundry against someone you have decided not to criminally charge with wrongdoing.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And to your - the word you just used there, comprehensive, meaning what? It's a big fat report, or that it's exhausted all avenues? What are you signaling there?

JOHNSON: I've asked a lot of questions about that.

KELLY: (Laughter).

JOHNSON: And all I know is that it's comprehensive. It's not, probably, one page if it's comprehensive. I'll get back to you on it as soon as I know.

KELLY: We will stand by for that. Meanwhile, I want to ask you about something that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is out saying and others echoing; that he says the Justice Department never stood in Mueller's way during this investigation. What's going on with that?

JOHNSON: This is significant, Mary Louise, because the regulations require the attorney general to report any instance where DOJ brass wanted to override or veto a decision the special counsel wanted to make.

KELLY: OK.

JOHNSON: There has been speculation over the...

KELLY: He was allowed to investigate what he wanted to investigate.

JOHNSON: Well, or charge who he wanted to charge, and nobody stopped him from taking a major step. And what Bill Barr has told Congress tonight and what the Justice Department has told me is that never happened. DOJ brass never overrode any of the conclusions or major decisions by the special counsel. It's not clear that they would have anyway. Bob Mueller, you know, is a former FBI director, one of the most well-respected people in law enforcement in recent history. It would have been a big deal if DOJ decided to veto what he wanted to do.

KELLY: What about this other bombshell that you were reporting, which is that the special counsel is not recommending additional indictments? No additional indictments; that includes sealed indictments.

JOHNSON: A Justice source says no additional indictments. They don't characterize anything about sealed indictments or unsealed indictments. But what we do know and what Senator Blumenthal has pointed out is that federal prosecutors in New York continue to look into campaign finance violations, prosecutors in Virginia and Washington, D.C., are looking at other aspects of Trump World. And so these investigations for the White House will not end, even though Bob Mueller is eventually going to close up shop, and his prosecutors are going to disperse to the winds.

KELLY: NPR's Carrie Johnson with all the latest on the Mueller report. Thank you very much, Carrie.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.