Members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the matter.
The displeasure among some who worked on the closely held inquiry has quietly begun to surface in the days since Barr released a four-page letter to Congress on March 24 describing what he said were the principal conclusions of Mueller's still-confidential, 400-page report.
In his letter, Barr said that the special counsel did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. And he said that Mueller did not reach a conclusion "one way or the other" as to whether Trump's conduct in office constituted obstruction of justice.Absent that, Barr told lawmakers that he concluded the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the president obstructed justice.
But members of Mueller's team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.
"It was much more acute than Barr suggested," said one person, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity.
The New York Times first reported that some special counsel investigators feel that Barr did not adequately portray their findings.
Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared, according to two people familiar with their reactions.
"There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead," according one U.S. official briefed on the matter.Summaries were prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could made public, the official said.
The report was prepared "so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly," the official said. "It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself."
Mueller's team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, "and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general's summary of their work, as turned out to be the case."
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the special counsel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said the frustrations on Mueller's team were coming from "disgruntled" staffers.
In an interview Wednesday night with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Giuliani said the reports prove the special counsel's office was biased.
They are a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers," he said. "And they are rabid Democrats who hate the president of United States."
Giuliani added, "I am absolutely confident that the report will bear out the conclusions. The conclusions: no obstruction, no Russian collusion of any kind. It will bear that out."
In the wake of the limited information released by Barr, Trump declared that the Mueller report provided him with "complete and total exoneration." He has repeatedly called for an inquiry into how the investigation began in the first place.
"There was no collusion with Russia," Trump said. "There was no obstruction."
During nearly two years of work, Mueller's team — which included 19 lawyers and roughly 40 FBI agents, analysts and other professional staff — worked in near silence, speaking only rarely, through public documents filed in court. The fact that some have been confiding in recent days to associates is a sign of the level of their distress.
Some members of Mueller's team appear caught off guard by how thoroughly the president has used Barr's letter to claim total victory, as the limited information about their work has been weaponized in the country's highly polarized political environment, according to people familiar with their responses.
Their frustrations come as polls show many Americans have already drawn conclusions about the special counsel findings — even though only a handful of words from the report have so far been released.
On Wednesday night, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, questioned why Barr did not release the special counsel's summary material.
"It's been my assumption that a 400-page report has an executive summary already, and so of course it begged the question, 'Why did Barr feel the need to release his own summary?' " he said on MSNBC. "Why didn't he release a summary produced by Bob Mueller itself instead of trying to shape it through his own words?"
It is not yet clear if Mueller's full investigative findings will be released publicly.
Barr told Congress in a letter last week that the principal conclusions he described were not meant to be a summary of Mueller's investigation. He said he is aiming to submit a redacted version of the report to Congress by mid-April after removing classified and grand jury material, as well damaging information about peripheral players who were not charged with crimes.
"Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own," Barr wrote.
The House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for the entire report, as well as investigative materials, though Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said he will wait to issue the demand until he sees what Barr makes public. Some Democrats have also indicated they wish to see Mueller testify to Congress, which would allow lawmakers to question him about Barr's letter.
Barr said the special counsel's report is divided into two parts. The first pertains to the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election and documents crimes committed by Russians in that regard. The second addresses a number of actions by the president as potentially raising concerns about obstruction of justice, Barr said.
He said that the special counsel's decision not to reach a legal conclusion on obstruction left it to him to determine whether Trump's conduct as described constituted a crime.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein "and I have concluded that the evidence developed . . . is not sufficient to establish" that the president committed obstruction of justice, he wrote in his letter to Congress.
Democrats have questioned Barr's conclusion, noting that he wrote a 2018 memo that criticized Mueller's obstruction inquiry and argued that the president cannot be accused of obstruction for exercising his broad constitutional powers.
Washington Post. April 3, 2019
Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.
Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She covers cybersecurity, surveillance, counterterrorism and intelligence issues. She has also served as a Southeast Asia correspondent and covered the White House and Virginia state politics. She joined The Post in 1995.
Carol Leonnig is an investigative reporter at The Washington Post, where she has worked since 2000. She won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for her work on security failures and misconduct inside the Secret Service.
April 4, 2019
Voices4america Post Script. This is one of the two articles that appeared in national pres in which the investigators that wrote the report with Mueller say Barr mischaracterized it.
The second was the New York Times. Here are the first four pararagraphs-
WASHINGTON — Some of Robert S. Mueller III's investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel's office — is who shapes the public's initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller's team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel's findings, Americans' views will have hardened before the investigation's conclusions become public.
Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel's investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel's work in his letter.
However, the special counsel's office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.
Mr. Barr was also wary of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with Mr. Barr's thinking. They pointed to the decision by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.
Here is the whole New York Times article.
Some on Mueller's Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/wil...