Seldom has a report in Washington been so vigorously debated before its release. After nearly two years of speculation over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, a redacted version of his final report is expected to be made public Thursday by Attorney General William Barr.
Until then, we have just two pieces of real information in our pockets: Barr’s four-page summary of the report’s conclusion, and Barr’s testimony last week, during which he said he would release as much of the report as legally allowed after redacting certain portions, with color coding to explain the justifications for each redaction.
While we wait, some things are already clear. Here are key issues to watch for when the report appears, and a suggested list of search terms that could help uncover potential surprises.
The four big issues
Ahead of the report, four issues loom largest: Russia’s election interference, the Trump campaign’s activities, and the question of whether the president obstructed justice.
- Obstruction of justice. Did the president obstruct justice? For many, this is the largest, potentially earth-shaking issue in the report. Barr’s summary indicated that Mueller was not able to conclude whether Trump’s actions could be construed as obstruction of justice. Instead, the special counsel has laid out arguments on each side. Look for: What is the evidence for and against obstruction?
- Can you indict a sitting president? Related to the discussion of obstruction, there are heated legal questions about whether the Justice Department can press criminal charges against any sitting president. Look for: The supernova issues: Did Mueller determine whether any sitting president can be indicted? Did that influence, or even dictate, his lack of conclusion over whether this president could be prosecuted for obstruction?