|T.J. KIRKPATRICK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES|
The Intertubes have been afire over stories on the imminent release of a big report from Robert Mueller.
It is widely assumed that this is the (drum roll, please!) eagerly anticipated final report as dictated by Department of Justice regulations, which require that at the conclusion of Mueller's investigation he will "provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel." The attorney general is now William Barr, whom Donald Trump nominated because he hopes Barr will dig a hole and bury the report.
The online conflagration was stoked by stories from NBC News, CNN and The Washington Post to the effect that their sources are being told Mueller could send his final report to Barr as early as next week, but none of the stories even hint at what the report will say.
The WaPo story had the obligatory anonymous "adviser to Trump" source who said there "is palpable concern among the president's inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct."
Because I read that quote at night and not over breakfast, I was not able to blow coffee through my nose. (Beer would not have worked.) Since when has anything damaged Trump politically? Two fricking years of revelations about all the contacts that Trump campaign officials and advisers had with Russians, some of them surely with Trump's knowledge, have failed to damage him politically in any significant way and still won't even if he is named by Mueller as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Meanwhile, the CNN story was supplemented with kibbles from its Maximum Bob stakeout team such as "On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, special counsel's office employees carried boxes and pushed a cart full of files out of their office — an unusual move that could foreshadow a hand-off of legal work."
Portraying clerks pushing carts as an "unusual move" beggars belief, so until the news hounds come up with something more definitive than coffee grounds making interesting patterns at the bottoms of their newsroom mugs, I'm going to suggest that the real imminent release of a report will be anticlimactic but -- alas for the president and his sycophancy -- nevertheless a scene from their worst nightmare.
That would be a thoroughgoing Paul Manafort sentencing memo due on Friday that Barr can't touch.
The best-case scenario for the good guys is that Mueller will lay out in the sentencing memo in damning detail the former Trump campaign chairman's collusion with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, specifically the sharing of inside campaign polling data as ammo for Vladimir Putin's cyberespionage of Hillary Clinton, as well as backchannel leaks to the White House through one of Manafort's lawyers as he set about breaking his plea agreement by lying through his teeth in hopes of securing a presidential pardon.
And if perchance the memo is heavily redacted, it would be to protect aspects of Mueller's ongoing investigation into other Trump campaign perps that may lead to what Marcy Wheeler calls an "overarching conspiracy indictment."
Marcy is the doyen of Russia scandal watchers and writes with unimpeachable (ouch!) good sense at emptywheel that such an indictment would lay out
[H]ow Trump and his spawn entered into a quid quo pro with various representatives of the Russian government, getting dirt on Hillary and either a Trump Tower or maybe a bailout for the very same building in which Manafort met with Kilimnik on August 2, 2016. In exchange for all that, Trump agreed to — and took steps to deliver on . . . reversing the sanctions that were such a headache to Russia's oligarchs.Meanwhile, Mueller also has loose ends to wrap up.
His prosecutors are involved in several subpoena fights, notably one involving a foreign state-owned mystery bank that has worked its way up to the Supreme Court, and I just don't see him dropping that ball.
All this by way of saying that final report may remain a ways off.
Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.