As Washington counts down the final hours until publication of the redacted special counsel report — now expected Thursday — President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks in an effort to undermine potential disclosures on Russia, his 2016 campaign and the aftermath.
He unleashed a series of tweets Monday focusing on the previously released summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions — including a crucial one on obstruction of justice that Trump again misrepresented — produced by Attorney General William Barr.
“Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller findings (and great intelligence), have already ruled No Collusion, No Obstruction,” Trump tweeted. “These were crimes committed by Crooked Hillary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!”
Press secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly tried to make the same case on talk shows on Sunday.
The Justice Department announced Monday that it expects to release the redacted version Thursday morning, sending the findings of the nearly two-year probe to Congress and making them available to the public.
Mueller officially concluded his investigation late last month and submitted the confidential report to Barr. Two days later, the attorney general sent Congress a four-page letter that detailed Mueller’s “principal conclusions.”
In his letter, Barr said the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign.
Portions of the report being released by the Justice Department will be redacted to protect grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, matters that could affect ongoing investigations and damage to the privacy rights of third parties, the attorney general has said.
Trump and his allies also continue to attack the origins of the Russia investigation, portraying it as an effort by Democrats and career officials in the Justice Department to bring him down.
“The Mueller Report, which was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax. That is, never forget, the crime,” Trump tweeted Monday.
His long-asserted accusation that his campaign was spied upon was given new life last week when Barr, testifying before Congress, said he thinks “spying did occur” in 2016.
Barr may have been referring to a surveillance warrant the FBI obtained in the fall of 2016 to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The warrant was obtained after Page had left the campaign and was renewed several times. Critics of the Russia investigation have seized on the fact that the warrant application cited Democratic-funded opposition research, done by a former British spy, into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Barr later softened his tone to “I am not saying improper surveillance occurred.”
The attorney general’s comments have frustrated Democrats, already anxious for the release of the full, uncensored report and concerned that Barr may withhold pertinent information. The report could provide new information that could prompt further investigations or even consideration of impeachment proceedings, a tricky political calculation since Mueller did not conclude there was collusion or obstruction.
The Russia probe began on July 31, 2016, when the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential campaign and whether anyone on the Trump campaign was involved. That probe was prompted by former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’ contacts with Russian intermediaries, including a Maltese professor who told the young aide that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails.