With a political battle ready to boil over at any minute on how much is going to be revealed to the public about the Russia investigation, and both political parties fully ready to press their case to the public on how to digest what's being released by the Trump Administration, the Justice Department on Thursday morning is set to release some of the details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 elections.
Here's the basic run down on what to expect on Thursday:
1. Attorney General starts first with a news conference at 9:30 am EDT. Even before the redacted report from the Special Counsel is made public, U.S. Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference at the Justice Department. News organizations were told that Congress would get the report between 11 am and 12 noon - and around that time, the report will be posted on the website of the Special Counsel. President Trump also suggested that he might hold a news conference before he leaves for his Florida retreat to spend the Easter weekend.
2. Redactions are certain to be a big issue. There were reports Wednesday night that the redactions were not going to black out a significant part of the Mueller report, but no one will know that until we get to read the report with our own eyes. Four specific types of information would be redacted as spelled out by Attorney General William Barr - 1) Materials from grand jury proceedings, 2) Classified information, 3) information related to ongoing prosecutions, and 4) Materials which touch on third parties who are not directly involved in the Russia investigation. Barr says the redactions will be 'color coded,' allowing people to know why certain passages or words were not made public. You can listen to Barr's explanation from his testimony to a House panel last week:
3. We already know a lot about the Russia investigation. Even before some of the details from the Mueller report are released to the public, the Special Counsel has put a lot on the record. There clearly was an effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections. Russian intelligence agents were indicted for hacking Democratic Party emails and documents, and providing those materials to Wikileaks. A series of people who worked for the campaign, or were foreign policy advisers, have come under scrutiny for contacts with Russians - both during and after the elections. A number of people have plead guilty to lying to the feds about such contacts. But the Special Counsel never tied it all together into any indictments which alleged coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, something the President has trumpeted repeatedly in recent days.
4. President Trump and the question of obstruction of justice. In his March 24 letter to Congress, the Attorney General clearly stated that Special Counsel Mueller did not make a final conclusion about whether President Trump obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. "The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'" It will be interesting to see how the report deals with this matter, and how much of the Mueller evidence - and his own internal deliberations about obstruction - will be made public by the Attorney General.
5. Is Congress really getting the Mueller report on a CD? According to news organizations on Wednesday, the Justice Department is sending Congress the redacted version of the Mueller report on a CD. Needless to say, many of you reading this probably don't have a CD drive on your laptop or home computer - let alone on your cell phone. Many of you probably forgot that CD's could be used for something other than music. In 1998, Ken Starr's investigation delivered its report in both written form and - wait for it - on a CD. And of course, I still have my copy.
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