President Donald Trump could learn the findings of the much-anticipated Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling in a matter of days, US media report.
Citing sources familiar with the investigation, CNN reported Thursday morning (Australian time) that newly-installed Attorney General Bill Barr was preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of the Russia probe.
The exact timing of the announcement is subject to change, with the sources saying Mr Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could possibly delay the publication of the findings.
The Justice Department and the special counsel Mueller’s office declined to comment on the reports.
Under the special counsel regulations, Mr Mueller must submit a “confidential” report to the Attorney General at the conclusion of his investigation, but there is no compulsion for it to be shared with Congress.
Mr Barr has said that he plans to be as “transparent” as possible with Congress and the public, “consistent with the rules and the law”.
However, he has also signalled that the Justice Department generally does not publicise “derogatory” information about uncharged individuals.
News of the report’s imminent release comes days after it was revealed the FBI developed a back-up plan to protect evidence in its own Russia investigation soon after Mr Trump sensationally fired FBI director James Comey in 2017.
The plan, revealed by former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe in an interview on US television, was formulated as the FBI began investigating whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice and whether he might be, wittingly or not, in league with the Russians.
While Mr Trump has railed against the Russia investigations, repeatedly describing them as a “witch hunt”, the Mueller probe has already claimed several victims.
Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen is set to go to prison in March after pleading guilty campaign finance violations during the Trump’s presidential election campaign, crimes he said he undertook on Mr Trump’s instruction.
The Mueller investigation most recently ensnared a long-time confidant of Mr Trump, political operative Roger Stone, and has led to the conviction of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Mr Mueller has been tight-lipped about when the months of closed-door grand jury sessions and plea deals will conclude, leaving questions over how far into the White House his probe will reach and what will happen to his findings.