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You will not get what you want from the 'Mueller Report'

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 3/22/2019 Timothy P. Carney
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Washington's political class has waited months for the moment: the delivery of the "Mueller Report." Like Donald Trump's "wall," the phrase "Mueller Report" has meant a thousand different things to different readers and commentators. To follow the cable news, you may have gotten the impression that special counsel Robert Mueller was going to publicly release the full findings of his investigation.

That's basically what we got when independent counsel Ken Starr released the findings of his investigations into Bill Clinton's lechery, perjury, and abuse of power, but the current law governing the special counsel is different from the old law governing the independent counsel.

So here's what to keep in mind:

1) Mueller owed his report to the Justice Department, not to Congress or the public. That little buzz of excitement at 5 p.m. Friday was over Mueller delivering to Attorney General Bill Barr his final work product: a "confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions" Mueller reached. Mueller's job was to indict people who needed indictment. This report is basically an after-action report — a matter of DOJ having oversight over the special counsel's office.

2) What Barr delivers to Congress might not be that juicy. Barr has said he'll provide Congress a summary of Mueller's report. The Department of Justice has guidelines against releasing derogatory information about unindicted individuals. That is, if President Trump or one of his sons did something bad but not prosecutable, Barr can be expected to exclude that from his report to Congress. That means even if Democrats leak Barr's summary, or if Barr makes it public, you may not get all the dirt on the bad stuff that didn't result in an indictment.

Notably, Barr's letter makes it clear he'll follow DOJ "practices and policies."

So this moment we've been waiting for might not provide the clarity so many had hoped for.

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