What To Expect From The Mueller Report
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen will be speaking to Congress next week. Trump's former adviser Roger Stone has been ordered not to speak at all - not publicly about his case, anyway. That's the order from a federal judge. They are two of the Trump associates charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which, reportedly, could wrap up sometime soon. Kimberly Wehle is with us. She's a lawyer who worked for the independent counsel during the Whitewater investigation.
KIMBERLY WEHLE: Good morning.
GREENE: So there have been these reports that Mueller's investigation could be reaching an end at some point soon. Having been through this yourself, are you seeing signs of that?
WEHLE: Well, I'm hearing signs of that. I think in today's age, it's difficult to have any confidence unless we actually have an official announcement from the Justice Department or a public filing. But that is what we're hearing both informally, as well as, reportedly, the lawyers are packing up and going back to their sort of home jobs at the Department of Justice and other places.
GREENE: Oh, you know that. I mean, you've actually spoken to people who were packing up and...
WEHLE: Well, I haven't personally spoken to people. But that's my understanding. And, you know, it's been two years. I would actually, expect, based on my experience, that the investigation would continue. Ken Starr's investigation was four years with him and then additional years on either end with other independent counsel that either preceded him or came after him. So I would think this is, actually, a pretty quick job on such a widely ranging investigation that Mr. Mueller has under his tutelage.
GREENE: And I guess it's worth saying, I mean, a lot of the legal activity in cases could go on, even when the special counsel's investigation itself has closed. How will we know that it has closed? I mean, will there be an announcement from the Justice Department? Will there be a report that goes to Congress and/or a report that will be made public to us?
WEHLE: You know, that's a really important question. Under Ken Starr, there was a statute in place that required that there be a report to Congress. That statute's expired. And so what we have is an internal regulation, which isn't as powerful, in terms of the law, as a statute. And under that, it says that the report - the one that, I think, most people are interested in - is confidential. And that goes from Mr. Mueller to the attorney general. And then it would be up to the attorney general to make that public.
And pursuant to DOJ guidelines, which governs that, typically, it would not be made public. So Mr. Barr has a tremendous amount of discretion going forward as to how much, if any, of the actual facts that the independent counsel gathered are made public to the American public or to Congress.
GREENE: Which was something Democrats were very concerned about when he didn't make a promise that he would make all of this public during his confirmation hearings last week. Can I just ask you - Michael Cohen's set to publicly testify on the Hill next week. This is someone who was President Trump's lawyer, knew him so well. What do you expect? What are you looking for there?
WEHLE: Well, I think it's going to be an interesting thing for the American public to watch someone actually tell his story about what his relationship was with Mr. Trump. I think this is such a complicated scheme, so many sort of subplots going on, that it's important that people just understand in common-sense terms what at least one person's experience was.
And I think that will be really important, especially to the - if there's going to have to be a political solution, if any, to any problems at the upper echelons of the White House. It's going to have to happen in Congress and not through the independent counsel.
GREENE: And very briefly, the gag order on Roger Stone - what are the implications of that?
WEHLE: Well, if he violates it a second time, I think he will end up in jail. But it's really stunning that he would so brazenly flout the authority of the court and put this particular judge in potential harm. I think we are in an age where there are very few boundaries. And people are acting in ways that are just unacceptable. And I think this shows it.
GREENE: Kimberly Wehle worked for the independent counsel during the Whitewater investigation. She teaches law at the University of Baltimore. Thanks so much.
WEHLE: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.