The main findings from special counsel Robert Mueller’s long and contentious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election will not be revealed for at least another day.
While attorney general William Barr spent Saturday reviewing Mr Mueller’s confidential report on the investigation, a senior justice department official told AP that Mr Barr’s “principal conclusions” summary for Congress would not be released immediately.
A White House spokesman said they had not received the report or been briefed on its contents.
Mr Barr was pictured arriving at the department of justice early on Saturday morning in Washington a day after Mr Mueller wrapped up the inquiry that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency.
Even with the details still under wraps, the indication that Mr Mueller does not plan to make any additional indictments was welcome news to some in Mr Trump’s circle who had feared a final round of charges could ensnare more of his associates, including members of the president’s family.
Mr Trump, who has relentlessly criticised Mr Mueller’s 22-month-long investigation as a “witch hunt”, was on the golf course in Florida on Saturday.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has told House Democrats that even if there are no further prosecutions from Mr Mueller, his full report must be released to Congress.
Ms Pelosi sent a letter to colleagues ahead of an “emergency” call with all House Democrats on Saturday to discuss where they “go from here” in their oversight of the White House. She said Mr Barr’s offer to provide Congress with a summary of conclusions was “insufficient”.
Mr Barr said in a letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees on Friday that he would share Mr Mueller’s main findings as soon as this weekend. The department of justice said the report was delivered by a security officer late on Friday to the office of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and then passed to Mr Barr.
Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.
Mr Trump, surrounded by advisers and political supporters at his resort in Florida, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.
Mr Mueller’s report sought to answer two core questions:
- Did Mr Trump’s campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favour of the celebrity businessman?
- Did Mr Trump take steps later, including by firing his FBI director, to obstruct the inquiry?
A justice department official confirmed that Mr Mueller was not recommending any further indictments, and described the document as “comprehensive”.
This conclusion may come as a relief to Donald Trump jnr, who had a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mr Mueller’s prosecutors.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr Mueller might have referred additional investigations to the department.
During the investigation, Mr Mueller charged 34 people, including the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies.
Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.
Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with Mr Mueller and a sixth, long-time confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
The conclusion of the investigation does not remove legal peril for the president.
Mr Trump faces a separate justice department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election.
He has also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Mr Trump asked him to arrange the transactions.
Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president’s inaugural committee.
Mr Trump was never interviewed in person, but submitted answers to questions in writing. – AP/PA