Justice Department Releases Less-Redacted Mueller Report

Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice about the Russia investigation on May 29, 2019. (AP file photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Justice Department on Friday released a less-redacted version of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, showing Mueller considered whether President Donald Trump lied about conversations he had with Roger Stone regarding WikiLeaks.

Many of the details contained in the newly unredacted portions of the blockbuster report were first revealed during Stone’s criminal trial last year but offer a more complete picture of Mueller’s report.

The new portions of text show Stone telling Trump campaign officials he was in contact with someone with ties to WikiLeaks and letting the campaign know when he expected the site would be releasing emails that were damaging to the Clinton campaign.

After WikiLeaks dropped a tranche of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in July 2016, as Stone had predicted in a phone call with then-candidate Donald Trump, the president remarked to Michael Cohen, “I guess Roger was right.”

But in written answers to Mueller’s team, Trump said he did “not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”

In a previously blacked-out section in volume two of the report, Mueller notes witnesses told his team that Stone and Trump had talked about WikiLeaks. Citing Trump’s public praise of Stone’s refusal to testify against him, the report states Trump could have been trying to persuade witnesses not to release information “that would be adverse to the president.”

“It is possible that, by the time the president submitted his written answers two years after the relevant events had occurred, he no longer had clear recollections of his discussion with Stone or his knowledge of Stone’s asserted communications with WikiLeaks,” the unredacted version of the paragraph states. “But the president’s conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the president’s denials and would link the president to Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks.”

Mueller ultimately did not reach a traditional prosecutorial decision about whether Trump obstructed justice.

After consuming Washington for the better part of two years, Mueller’s report was released to great anticipation in April 2019. The report did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign of the Russian government, though it did find the campaign saw information coming from the Kremlin as helpful to its chances in the November election.

But even before the Mueller report’s formal release, a collection of watchdog groups and media organizations, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Buzzfeed journalist Jason Leopold, filed suit seeking an unredacted version of the explosive document.

A substantial portion of the redactions were related to Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser, who at the time of the report’s release was facing prosecution for lying to Congress and witness tampering related to the Mueller investigation.

Marked as potentially harmful to an ongoing matter, the Justice Department withheld the sections of the report related to Stone while his trial went on.

With his trial now done and Stone facing 40 months behind bars if he is not pardoned, the Justice Department last week said it could re-release the report with fewer redactions related to Stone. In a scathing opinion in March, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, also ordered the Justice Department to turn over an unredacted version of the document for his review in private.

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