President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election should be made public.
But Trump again questioned the grounds for the nearly two-year-old investigation, which is also examining whether the president himself criminally obstructed the probe.
With expectations rising that Mueller will wrap up his operation within weeks after having already charged six Trump associates and over two dozen Russians, Trump said that the secret report to be submitted to the Attorney General Bill Barr should be revealed to the public.
“If you want to let them see it, let them see it,” Trump told reporters.
Trump questioned how Mueller — a man “out of the blue” who “never got a vote” can be investigating him, given his victory in the 2016 election.
“I’m saying to myself, wait a minute, I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country … and I have somebody writing the report who never got a vote, called the Mueller report. Explain that,” Trump said.
“Because my voters don’t get it. And I don’t get it. At the same time, let it come out. Let people see it.”
Even so, that could be difficult. Under the rules of his May 2017 appointment, Mueller, a former director of the FBI, is to submit to Barr “a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions.”
That report, experts say, is unlikely to be revealed in the raw — it could have confidential data on people not charged, as well as top secret information on sources.
But Barr is also compelled to submit to Congress his own summary of the investigation, a report which could be made public.
Barr, who was a critic of Mueller before Trump appointed him attorney general in February, would not have to be as detailed as Mueller is.
He could possibly leave out information that might be damaging to individuals like Trump, according to legal experts.
On the other hand, if Mueller finds criminal behaviour by Trump and believes the evidence strong enough to support an impeachment motion by Congress, he could, with Barr’s permission, write a separate report making that case.
An important question then is whether Barr would permit that, and allow that report to be released.
Trump has repeatedly branded the Mueller investigation an “illegal witch hunt” over the past two years and labelled his team of investigators politically biased.
While Mueller has revealed little about how he views Trump and his family as possible targets of the investigation, the president and the White House have stepped up their political campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the investigation.
“No collusion, no collusion,” Trump declared Wednesday.
“I had the greatest electoral victory in the history of our country, one of them,” he said.
“Tremendous success. Tens of millions of voters. Now somebody’s going to write a report, who never got a vote.”
“We will see what the report says. Let’s see if it’s fair.”
© Agence France-Presse