The Department of Justice is seeking to publish an “alternative” report written by aides of special counsel Robert Mueller, which purportedly disagreed with his conclusions about President Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia.
Responding to a document request by the New York Times, the DOJ has sought out the report named in a book by Mueller assistant Andrew Weissman and is working to declassify it for publication, US Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York said in a court filing on Thursday evening.
The DOJ “has located and begun processing this record and intends to release all non-exempt portions … once processing is complete,” Williams wrote. The department estimates that “primary processing” will be complete “by the end of January 2022,” at which point the document would be sent to other divisions for consultation. There was no estimate on the actual publication date.
Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Trump, both for the alleged “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 election and purported obstruction of the FBI’s investigation, for firing its director, James Comey. In congressional hearings, Comey admitted he had written memos of his meetings with Trump and leaked them to the press with the objective of having a special counsel appointed.
His final report, however, concluded there was no evidence anyone in Trump’s campaign conspired or colluded with Russia, and could not prove obstruction to press any charges. Mueller’s jumbled testimony before Congress in July 2019 led to widespread speculation that it was actually Weissman that ran the investigation and authored the report.
In his 2020 book, ‘Where Law Ends’, Weissman said he had instructed members of his team to “write up an internal report memorializing everything we found, our conclusions, and the limitations on the investigation, and provided it to the other team leaders as well as had it maintained in our files.” It is this report that the Times sought, and the DOJ is now working to declassify.
The team Weissman instructed had been working on the case of Paul Manafort, who managed Trump’s campaign for several months in 2016, but resigned after media revelations of his lobbying work in Ukraine. Manafort was eventually charged and sentenced for tax evasion, money laundering and other charges, none of which were in any way related to the 2016 presidential campaign. He was pardoned by Trump in 2020.
Weissman himself was the subject of controversy during the special counsel probe. The Wall Street Journal reported he attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party, while emails obtained by the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch showed him praising acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying Trump’s travel ban order in January 2017.