Donald Trump has been president for 792 days. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job – investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of collusion between the Russians and members of Trump’s campaign – for 675 days.
That all came to a head at 5 p.m. Eastern, when the Justice Department announced that Mueller had delivered his investigation to Attorney General William Barr. While we don’t know what’s in the report, we do know that this marks a major milestone: Mueller’s investigation, which has occupied 85% of Trump’s presidency, is now finished. We are likely to look back on Trump’s presidency – no matter what the report actually says – as “before Mueller report” and “after the Mueller report.”
Barr told congressional leaders in a letter Friday that he may be able to advise them on the “principal conclusions” of the Mueller report “as soon as this weekend.”
This all began on May 17, 2017, when Mueller was appointed as special counsel by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In the intervening 22 months (statistics courtesy of CNN Mueller probe expert Marshall Cohen):
- Mueller brought criminal charges against 37 people and entities.
- 6 of them were associates of President Trump: Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, national security adviser Michael Flynn, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Trump ex-attorney Michael Cohen and political svengali Roger Stone
- 5 people have been sentenced to prison
- Trump has referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt” more than 170 times.
Given the length of the Mueller probe, the number of charges it has produced and Trump’s unrelenting negative attacks on Mueller and his team, it’s normal to see the conclusion of the Mueller report as the beginning of the end of all of this.
Except that even with Mueller’s probe now shuttered, we still don’t immediately know a) what he submitted of his findings to Barr b) what Barr will redact c) whether the White House will be able to see the report before Congress and/or exert executive privilege on parts of it d) when Congress will get the report and how extensive or not the report will be and e) when – and if – the report is made public.
That leaves off the many House Democratic investigations into the Trump administration, the possibility of bringing Mueller in front of Congress to testify over the report, and the likely legal fights that will follow any redactions and executive privilege claims.
See what I mean? End of the beginning. Not the beginning of the end. (Thanks, Sir Winston!)
Still, it is an end – if not the end.
The Point: With the news that Mueller is done, Trump’s presidency as we have known it since, well, almost its first days, will begin to change. How will it change – and will that change be the beginning of the end for Trump or a new and more positive beginning?
Below, the week that was in 18 headlines.
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