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Mueller Report Redactions Raise 'Significant Red Flags' About Ongoing Trump World Investigations: Legal Experts

The redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report on Russian election interference shows that while this particular investigation may have come to a close, there are still a number of ongoing investigations looming over President Donald Trump and his associates.

The hundreds of redactions in the report “raise significant red flags that the Mueller investigation and its tentacles is not done,” Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek. “Because those ongoing matters probably involve persons affiliated with Trump world.”

The people most likely to be the subject of ongoing probes, according to Rossi, are Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, members of the Trump family and other individuals in the president’s orbit.

But it remains unclear just how much of the ongoing investigative matters omitted in the Mueller report threaten President Trump directly.

Bradley Moss, a national security expert, told Newsweek: “We know there are ongoing probes in the [Southern District of New York] that were farmed out by Mueller that have targeted the hush money payment issue" involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Cliffords) and model Karen McDougal, who both said they had affairs with Trump. 

"It’s not clear if there are any other probes beyond that which implicate the president,” Moss said.

Approximately 953 redactions were made to Mueller’s 448-page report, according to Reuters. The document was made public by Attorney General William Barr on Thursday morning. Last week, Barr told lawmakers he was working in tandem with the special counsel’s office to identify areas within the document that need to be shielded from public view for various reasons.

The redactions were color-coded into four categories: grand jury material, foreign intelligence, facts relating to ongoing investigations and information about people who were not charged with a crime.

The most frequently used of these categories was information relating to ongoing investigations, which constituted nearly half of the report’s total redactions. Much of the omitted information appears to pertain to the 2016 WikiLeaks dump of hacked emails from Democratic sources, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

The second highest number of redactions concerned grand jury material. Mueller used grand juries throughout the probe to issue over 2,800 subpoenas and 500 search warrants.

In a press conference before the report’s release on Thursday morning, Barr said that the color-coding strategy was used to “ensure as much transparency as possible.”

“As you will see, most of the redactions were compelled by the need to prevent harm to ongoing matters and to comply with court orders prohibiting the public disclosure of information bearing upon ongoing investigations and criminal cases, such as the IRA case and the Roger Stone case,” he told reporters.

IRA refers to the Internet Research Agency, a group allegedly sponsored by the Russian government and set up to sow discord in the 2016 election through social media.

The attorney general also insisted that no one outside of the Justice Department played a role in redacting the Mueller report.

gettyimages-1137867495-594x594 Attorney General William Barr speaks about the release of the redacted version of the Robert Mueller report as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens on April 18. Win McNamee

Barr has been heavily criticized, particularly by congressional Democrats, for redacting Mueller’s report. But the Justice Department has defended the attorney general, insisting the report contains sensitive information that cannot be disclosed at this time.

Despite the color-coded explanations for the redactions, these blocked-out sections have only stoked speculation and charges from critics that Barr may have mishandled the report out of allegiance to the president.

Several members of the special counsel’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The New York Times and The Washington Post last week they believed the attorney general had not adequately represented the findings of their 22-month probe into Russia's election interference.

These investigators said that Barr had ignored summaries they prepared for public release. They also told the news outlets that the issue of obstruction of justice was actually “must more acute” than the attorney general had suggested in his summary.

Ahead of the report’s release, the House Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for the entire document, should Barr refuse to release it. Shortly after the document was made public, Democrats renewed their calls for the unredacted report.

"Because Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally mandated responsibilities, I will issue a subpoena for the full report and the underlying materials," Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

But experts say that the amount of redactions made by Barr and the special counsel’s office is typical with a report of this length and importance.

“The severity of the redactions was about what I expected and thankfully was not too heavy-handed,” Moss said. He added that this “was no doubt due to the fact” that the Justice Department knew it was going to have to justify the omissions.

Rossi agreed that it appears that Barr has “acted in a reasonable manner” in redacting sensitive information in the report.

“But I would say that at some point the entire, unredacted report has to go to Congress, particularly the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee. That has to happen,” he said.

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