What to look out for in Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ report

The US president, American politicians and most of the world are waiting for the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. 

The release of the 400-page document is highly anticipated, however, it will be redacted.

Here is what to look out for:

:: What is the report?

Widely referred to as the Mueller report, this is the conclusion of a 22-month investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

It focuses on the alleged interference, such as the hacking and leaking of emails of senior Democrats as well as disinformation operations over social media and by Kremlin-funded news outlets.

It also looks at whether Donald Trump and members of his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as well as whether he obstructed justice in his actions.

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The sun sets on the US Capitol on March 22, 2019 in Washington, DC, shortly after the announcement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had wrapped up his two-year investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election
Image: Robert Mueller’s investigation lasted almost two years

:: What will be the interesting bits?

It will all be interesting given how the question of Russian meddling in the race to the White House has haunted the Trump presidency, though sections will be redacted, potentially withholding some of the most important evidence.

The two key areas to look out for are what Mr Mueller’s team discovered on obstruction of justice and whether evidence of potential collusion was found, even if this was deemed insufficient to meet the bar of a crime that could be prosecuted in a court of law.

Attorney General William Barr has already released what he said were the principle conclusions of the investigation, crucially saying it did not establish that members of the Trump campaign “conspired or co-ordinated” with Moscow in its election interference.

Democrats demand full release of Mueller report

This part of the report will still be pored over to see what exactly Mr Mueller discovered, possibly with new details of contacts between the Kremlin and the president and his associates.

The issue of obstruction will likely be more of a danger for Mr Trump.

We know from the attorney general that Mr Mueller and his team investigated actions by the president as potentially raising obstruction of justice concerns.

But the special counsel chose not to draw a conclusion either way.

Mr Barr said this left it up to him to decide and he concluded the evidence was not sufficient.

However, the basis upon which he made this conclusion will come under significant scrutiny once the report is released.

It is set to include information on obstruction not previously in the public domain.

:: What will be redacted?

Mr Barr and his team at the Justice Department have spent the past four weeks reviewing the report to decide how much to make public.

Democrats are demanding the document be released in its entirety.

However, there will be redactions under four categories – each given a different colour code.

The categories are: material from the grand jury; material that could reveal methods or sources of US or other foreign intelligence services.

This could include evidence given from the UK side; material that relates to ongoing criminal and other investigations; and material that could identify or affect people who have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

The Washington Post reported these redactions are expected to be light.

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‘I have been exonerated’

However, one official’s interpretation of light may differ from another’s.

:: What about the British link with former intelligence officer Christopher Steele?

Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, is an important part of this whole chapter in US history.

He complied a dossier in 2016 that contained allegations of Russian attempts to interfere in the US election long before this was public knowledge.

His work, paid for by opponents of Mr Trump and used by the FBI, also included allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as lewd allegations about Donald Trump himself.

The president has always denied the claims and repeatedly attacked Mr Steele on Twitter.

It will be interesting to see whether the Steele dossier or any information from Mr Steele is contained in the Mueller report.

This will be an area closely watched by the British government.

:: What is the timeline of the day?

The attorney general will give a press conference at 9.30am US time (2.30pm UK time) prior to the release of the report, raising concern that he is trying to shape the public’s understanding on the document before it is due to be made public between 11am and noon.

President Trump has indicated he may also speak.

The investigation has been highly politicised from its inception, with the president dismissing it as a “witch hunt” right up until the principle conclusions were released by his attorney general on 24 March, two days after Mr Barr was handed the report from the special counsel.

From that point, Mr Trump has jumped on the finding of no collusion to attack all those who said otherwise as well as incorrectly interpreting the attorney’s general’s decision on the obstruction of justice question to claim he has been completely exonerated.

Source: SKY NEWS

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