Mueller May Drop Second Report That Can’t Be Buried

here may in fact be two Mueller reports. This is because from the very beginning, Mueller has worn two hats and borne two missions relating to the Russia investigation. 

The most public and familiar one is as a criminal investigator under the special counsel regulations. But Mueller has also carried a second charge, as a counterintelligence expert, with a much broader charge to determine and report the scope of any interference and any links to the Trump campaign—what Trump himself might refer to as “collusion.”

…It is the central mission of a counterintelligence investigation, however, to produce . . . well, a report. These findings and conclusions are shared with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and relevant agencies of the 17-member intelligence community (CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.). The report may be honed into a formal IC “assessment” reflecting the consensus view of the 17 agencies. It was just such a report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” that on Jan. 7, 2017 was shared with incoming President Trump. Its disclosure brought into public view the Intelligence Community’s bombshell conclusion that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered an effort to discredit Hillary Clinton and to “help President-elect Trump’s election chances.”

Significantly, unlike a final criminal report, a Mueller counterintelligence report cannot be bottled up. By statute it must be shared with Congress. 

…Where matters are too delicate to share with all the members of the intelligence committees, statute and established practice provide that disclosure may be made to a smaller circle known as the “Gang of Eight:” the chair and ranking member of each intelligence committee, and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber.

…Done well (and Mueller and his team seem to do everything well), it will provide a much richer, broader narrative description of Russia’s effort to interfere in 2016, the nature of any links or cooperation between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and whether Trump or his associates were witting or unwitting assets for the Russians (including by obstructing the investigation)—as well perhaps as conclusions for action.

Mueller May Drop Second Report That Can’t Be Buried



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