TV News outlets were surprised Wednesday afternoon to learn Attorney General BIll Barr will hold a presser Thursday morning at 9:30 AM ET. At the presser, Barr will take questions about his redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about his nearly two years of investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
DOJ did not break the news, President Donald Trump did, during a Wednesday afternoon interview with Washington D.C. talk radio station WMAL, reinforcing charges by Barr critics that he’s Trump’s toady. And, DOJ has been consulting with White House for days about Mueller’s report, NYT reports.
Trump said he might hold his own presser after Barr, adding, “we’ll see.”
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Trump is scheduled to leave for Mar-a-Lago tomorrow; given his fondness for pop-up pressers on the White House lawn, some were putting their money on that.
As of writing, DOJ has not said if the report will be released early enough Thursday to give reporters attending Barr’s presser time to pore over its 400-ish pages, or if, more likely, it will be released as Barr’s presser begins, in order that Barr can tell the country what’s in the report before news outlets do, thereby controlling the news – like he did a few weeks ago with his four-page interpretation of Mueller’s report that has been used by Trump and his disciples to declare total exoneration.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to be at the presser, lending credibility; Mueller will not be there to take questions. DOJ is expected to release the report on the special counsel’s web site.
The release of the report is as eagerly anticipated in Washington as Oscar noms are in Hollywood. But in this case, it will trigger a similar mad scramble by staffers to comb through every page for any bombshells about POTUS, famly members, and his inner circle of current and former aides, and family members, and an Oscar morning-like media feeding frenzy.
In his radio interview, Trump forecast “a lot of very strong things come out” when Mueller’s report is released tomorrow, seeming to confirm NYT’s reporting.
Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, now a commentator at Fox News Channel, told Politico she’s most interested in learning if anyone inside Trump’s campaign reported to the FBI any contact with Russian officials promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Brazile became DNC chair when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down after release of her hacked emails.
Other Barr presser questions to expect: would he turn over an un-redacted, or less redacted, version of Mueller’s report to House and Senate intel committees under lock and seal. And many in the media say they’re wondering if Mueller probe results on Jared Kushner’s alleged effort to to establish backdoor communication with Russia through its embassy has been redacted. Pundits also anticipate a question about Trump’s participation in crafting Don Jr.’s initial false narrative about the nature of the meeting with Russians in Trump Tower during the campaign.
Word Barr’s longer version of Mueller report was expected this week sent President Trump into orbit; he declared during a White House lawn pop-up presser that Mueller’s investigation was “illegal,” “treasonous” and a foiled “coup.”
Barr also revealed last week he was assembling a team to investigate the origins of the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election because, while citing no evidence, he had “concerns,” adding, “I think spying did occur” by the previous administration against Trump’s campaign.