HOUSTON (FOX 26) - This week’s panel: Nyanza Davis Moore - Democratic Political Commentator Attorney, Bob Price – Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas , Antonio Diaz- writer, educator and radio host, Jessica Colon - Republican strategist, Keir Murray – Democratic strategist, Justin Lurie – member of the American Petroleum Institute and former Republican Congressional candidate, join Greg Groogan in a discussion about the Mueller report.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Special counsel Robert Mueller has wrapped up his investigation, but whether the public will get answers to consequential questions about President Donald Trump and Russia remains to be seen.
Attorney General William Barr is combing through Mueller's report and will release at least some of his findings publicly.
A look at what is still unknown:
DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA DURING THE 2016 ELECTION?
Mueller's team has assembled perhaps the most detailed account of Russia's election interference and the actions of Trump campaign officials and associates in 2016, interviewing scores of witnesses and amassing millions of documents and other pieces of evidence.
Even before Mueller finished his report, court filings show he concluded that Russia launched a large-scale, multi-part influence operation that sought to help Trump's campaign and hurt Hillary Clinton's. Filings have also shown the Trump campaign sought to politically benefit from Russia's efforts.
But the special counsel's probe ended Friday with no Americans being charged with crimes related to the Kremlin's attempts to sway the election. A Justice Department official also confirmed that Mueller is done bringing indictments.
What remains to be seen is what Mueller uncovered that may have fallen short of a crime and whether Barr will publicly address the collusion question head on.
DID TRUMP OBSTRUCT JUSTICE?
The special counsel has scrutinized several episodes, several of which involve the president and former FBI Director James Comey.
Prosecutors have interviewed White House officials about Trump's May 2017 firing of Comey and his explanation in a television interview that he was thinking of "this Russia thing" at the time.
According to Comey, Trump also encouraged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn; harangued his hand-picked attorney general over his decision to step aside from the Russia investigation and tried to get him to reverse his recusal decision; and publicly attacked at least one cooperating witness, his former attorney Michael Cohen, as a "rat," raising questions about whether he was attempting to intimidate associates to prevent them from testifying against him.
Also of interest to Mueller: The president dictated a misleading statement for the news media about a Trump Tower meeting at which his oldest son expected to receive damaging information about Clinton. The statement said the meeting was about adoptions but omitted the real reason why Donald Trump Jr. took the meeting in the first place.
Mueller has adhered to Justice Department legal opinions saying a sitting president cannot be indicted. But Mueller could have laid out his findings on the question of obstruction in his report, given that it was one of the original parts of his appointment order.
Whether the public will ever know is up to Barr.
WHAT ABOUT THE JUNE 2016 TRUMP TOWER MEETING?
It appears Mueller found no prosecutable crimes related to it.
The Russia probe concluded Friday without anyone involved in the gathering being charged because of it. That includes Trump Jr. and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has been a source of endless public intrigue and a longstanding subject of the investigation.
Trump Jr., who invited Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to the meeting, was promised dirt on Clinton as part of an ongoing Russian government effort to help his father. Trump Jr. responded enthusiastically to the overture, but after the meeting was disclosed, asserted that he had received nothing of note from Veselnitskaya and dismissed it as a veritable waste of time.
Prosecutors took grand jury testimony from multiple participants at the meeting, including a British music promoter who helped arrange it. But they never directly referenced it in court filings. It's unclear whether Mueller will lay out what he learned about the meeting and how it factored into his larger probe.
Veselnitskaya faces unrelated charges in New York.
WHY HAVE SO MANY TRUMP ASSOCIATES LIED ABOUT RUSSIA?
George Papadopoulos. Michael Flynn. Paul Manafort. Roger Stone. Michael Cohen.
According to Mueller, all of these men lied in one way or another about something to do with Russia and Trump.
Papadopoulos lied about contacts he had with a Maltese professor who told him the Russians had dirt on Clinton in the form of emails. Flynn lied about his conversations during the presidential transition with Russia's ambassador. Manafort lied about his interactions during the campaign with an associate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.
Stone is accused in an indictment of lying to Congress about his efforts to alert the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks' plans to release damaging information on Clinton during the election. (Stone has pleaded not guilty.)
Cohen told Congress a false story about a business deal Trump was pursuing in Russia during the election. He says he lied out of loyalty to Trump and to be consistent with the president's public denials about Russia.
For the rest, the motivation remains a mystery.
DID MUELLER ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IN HIS REPORT?
He could have but it's not required.
Justice Department regulations say only that Mueller must explain his "prosecution and declination decisions" in his report to Barr. A Justice Department official said Friday that the special counsel's report was "comprehensive" and Barr's letter to Congress is expected to summarize its "principle conclusions."
WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General William Barr has scoured special counsel Robert Mueller's confidential report on the Russia investigation with his advisers, deciding how much Congress and the American public will get to see about the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Moscow's efforts to elect him.
Barr was on pace to release his first summary of Mueller's findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said.
The attorney general's decision on what to finally disclose seems almost certain to set off a fight with congressional Democrats, who want access to all of Mueller's findings - and supporting evidence - on whether Trump's 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later sought to obstruct the investigation.
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversaw much of his work, analyzed the report on Saturday, laboring to condense it into a summary letter of main conclusions. Mueller delivered his full report to Barr on Friday.
The Russia investigation has shadowed Trump for nearly two years and has ensnared his family and close advisers. And no matter the findings in Mueller's report, the probe already has illuminated Russia's assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.
Barr has said he wants to release as much as he can under the law. That decision will require him to weigh the Justice Department's longstanding protocol of not releasing negative information about people who aren't indicted against the extraordinary public interest in a criminal investigation into the president and his campaign. Democrats are already citing the department's recent precedent of norm-breaking disclosures, including during the Clinton email investigation, to argue that they're entitled to Mueller's entire report and the underlying evidence he collected.
Even with the details still under wraps, Friday's end to the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump's orbit who had feared a final round of charges could target more Trump associates or members of the president's family.
The White House sought to keep its distance, saying Saturday it had not been briefed on the report. Trump, who has relentlessly criticized Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," went golfing and was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Not so one of his guests, musician Kid Rock, who posted a picture with the president and the tweet, "Another great day on the links! Thank you to POTUS for having me and to EVERYONE at Trump International for being so wonderful. What a great man, so down to earth and so fun to be with!!"
In a possible foreshadowing of expected clashes between the Justice Department and Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to members that Barr's offer to provide a summary of principal conclusions was "insufficient." Pelosi later told Democrats on a conference call that she would reject any kind of classified briefing on the report and that the information must be provided to Congress in a way that would allow lawmakers to discuss it publicly.
The conclusion of Mueller's investigation does not remove legal peril for the president. He 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's also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says 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.
As for Mueller, with no details released at this point, it was not known whether he concluded the campaign colluded with the Kremlin to tip the election in favor of the celebrity businessman. A Justice Department official did confirm that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments, meaning the investigation had ended without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy, or of obstruction of justice by the president.
In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the congressional Judiciary committees, Barr noted on Friday that the department had not denied any request from Mueller, something Barr would have been required to disclose to ensure there was no political inference. Trump was never interviewed in person by Mueller's team, but submitted answers to questions in writing.
In a Saturday conference call to strategize on next steps, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a warning for his fellow Democrats, some of whom have pinned high political hopes on Mueller's findings: "Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters."
A handful of Trump associates and family members have been dogged by speculation of possible wrongdoing. They include Donald Trump Jr., who had a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller's prosecutors.
All told, 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 cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, said Saturday that the case of former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Gates was a key cooperator in Mueller's probe and court papers show he continues to help with several other federal investigations.
Justice Department legal opinions have held that sitting presidents may not be indicted. But many Democrats say Trump should not be immune from a public accounting of his behavior. Though the department typically does not disclose negative information about people who are not indicted, officials have at times broken from that protocol.
Former FBI Director James Comey famously held a July 2016 news conference in which he criticized Clinton as "extremely careless" in her use of a private email server but said the FBI would not recommend charges. The Justice Department also took the extraordinary step of making available to lawmakers the details of a secret surveillance warrant obtained on a Trump campaign aide in the early days of the Russia probe.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York, Deb Riechmann in Palm Beach, Florida, and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.