On Friday afternoon, a security officer delivered special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report to the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Within its pages, there were no new indictments under seal, meaning that the nearly two-year investigation ended without the special counsel recommending that President Trump, or any of his family members, be charged with conspiracy or obstruction of justice.
If that’s a victory for the president, it was one that many Mueller watchers saw coming. Although Mueller’s findings are reportedly “very comprehensive,” Democrats in Congress were not anticipating a finale that would convince their Republican colleagues to agree to an impeachment process. Still, it’s likely that Trump will use the report as a weapon, boasting of his innocence in the immediate future while determining how to leverage the report for 2020. As the AP states, Trump could “take the findings and run on them, rather than against them, by painting the special counsel as an example of failed government overreach and Trump himself as the victim who managed to prove his innocence.”
It’s always been extremely unlikely that Trump would face a charge from Mueller’s team — under Justice Department policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted. But the president may not be in the clear just yet: The Southern District of New York or other Department of Justice prosecutors could pick up on significant threads from the report and pursue them deep into the 2020 campaign.
If the wrap-up feels anticlimactic, it’s worth revisiting what is already known. Six former Trump aides — including his personal fixer, national security adviser, and former campaign manager — have been indicted, convicted, or pleaded guilty to crimes ranging from conspiracy to defraud the United States to lying to Congress.
Now that Mueller has delivered the report, Attorney General William Barr will consult the special counsel and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to determine what information, beyond “principal conclusions,” he will send to lawmakers. In a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Barr wrote that he may send the conclusions over “as soon as this weekend.” Barr will also determine how much of the report the public will eventually see, but as New York’s Jonathan Chait suggests, “If Congress is briefed this weekend, news should leak very soon.”