The Mueller report is out. Members of Congress and the public now have a chance to read for themselves what special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators found in their 22-month probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
There is a catch, however: Readers will not be able to feast their eyes on every word, sentence and paragraph the special counsel’s office put to paper in the massive document.
The version made public on Thursday is partly redacted. Attorney General William Barr and his staff have been working with Mueller’s team for the better part of a month to identify — and remove — segments of the document that contain four categories of sensitive information.
Here’s what they are:
Grand jury materials
—Under federal rules, materials from grand jury proceedings are secret, although there are a few narrow exceptions that allow limited disclosure.
Democrats are currently wrestling with the Justice Department over access to grand jury materials in the Mueller report. The Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, has threatened to subpoena the full, unredacted report if the Justice Department doesn’t hand it over voluntarily, setting the stage for a potentially protracted legal battle.
—The report contains information that comes from U.S. intelligence agencies. Officials are concerned that the public release of some of that information could reveal how the U.S. got it — compromising sources and methods that America’s spies want to protect.
Information related to ongoing investigations
— A number of high-profile investigations have been spun out of Mueller’s Russia probe. The most notable one, perhaps, was the case in New York City brought against President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.
Details in the Mueller report that could reveal information about other ongoing investigations are scrubbed out of the redacted version.
Derogatory information about “peripheral” individuals
— Barr told Congress he wants to honor the Justice Department’s practice of not revealing information it has uncovered about people who were part of an investigation but whom it is not accusing of a crime. Trump won’t be covered by such redactions, he said, but the Justice Department is excising detail from the report about people who aren’t public officeholders.
This category has been a source of significant concern for many congressional Democrats. One lawmaker called it a category big enough to drive a truck through. It’s unclear, however, whether the president’s family members or high-ranking members of his campaign would be covered by this exception.