What You Need to Know: William Barr

Robert Mueller investigation: What happens next?

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office may be close to completing its investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to various media reports.

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While critics of President Donald Trump are hoping for a comprehensive condemnation of Trump’s actions, Neal Katyal -- the man who crafted the regulations that Mueller must follow as special counsel -- says the report may be a letdown for some.

Katyal was acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama and was the author of the special counsel regulations. He wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that he does not believe the report will be “a dictionary-thick tome,” but warned that “such brevity is not necessarily good news for the president. In fact, quite the opposite.”

Katyal said in the piece that Muller’s work may serve more like a “road map” to “investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives — and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors. A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.”

Here's a look at what will likely happen after Mueller finishes his investigation.

What is Mueller required to do?

Mueller operates under a set of regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Under those regulations, he must submit to Attorney General William Barr a report that contains an explanation as to why he investigated the people his office investigated, why he decided to charge certain individuals and perhaps why he decided not to charge others.

According to the CFR, Mueller must “At the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, … provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.”

Once the attorney general gets the report, here’s what happens:

The attorney general will notify the chairman and ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate with, “to the extent consistent with applicable law, a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.”

He must let members of Congress know if any request Mueller made to the Department of Justice was denied and for what reason. For example, if Mueller asked the DOJ to subpoena someone and was denied that authorization.

Will the public hear the contents of the report?

Many Democratic lawmakers have called for Barr to make all of Mueller’s report public. Barr has not commented on how much if any of the report he will make available to the public.

Barr has said that he would follow Justice Department practices that insist on not revealing conduct that did not result in charges.

According to the CFR, “The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

In other words, it’s up to Barr to decide if and what the public will hear from the report at this time.

In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The exact timing of Mueller’s endgame is still unclear. But Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the probe into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia's efforts to sway the 2016 election.   
Photo: (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)