The Note: Justice Department sparks new political concerns on Mueller day

PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Va., April 15, 2019.PlayJose Luis Magana/AP
WATCH Democrats blast Barr over rollout of Mueller report

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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A day expected to answer some of the biggest outstanding questions of the Trump presidency starts with even more questions.

Attorney General William Barr's decision to hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday -- before special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report is released -- serves up a fresh batch of political concern over the investigation's conclusion.

When it comes time for the report itself to be released to Capitol Hill and the public, color-coded redactions and all, the political arguments surrounding the Russia investigation and all that stemmed from it could be more complicated than when the day started.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn as he arrives at the White House in Washington, April 15, 2019, after visiting Minnesota. Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn as he arrives at the White House in Washington, April 15, 2019, after visiting Minnesota.

Those loyal to President Donald Trump remain anxious about who else -- if anyone -- might be implicated, and what else Mueller learned about the president's behavior. There could be more targets for Trump's wrath, depending on how much detail Mueller and his team get into.

On the other side, Barr referenced a few weeks back what Mueller "leaves unresolved" and "views as 'difficult issues' of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction." This could throw questions of impeachment squarely back into the mix for Democrats.

Barr's decision not to prosecute can't be appealed. But by speaking in advance of Mueller once again, it will be easier than ever to question the political motivations surrounding this moment.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Regardless of any possible revelations in the redacted Mueller report on Thursday, the special counsel has already informed the American public quite a bit about the scope and sophistication of the Russian operation to influence Americans and voting ahead of the 2016 elections.

In February last year, Mueller's team indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for exploiting social media to spread "fake news," promote discord in the United States and engage in what they called "information warfare."

PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller walks past the White House after attending services at St. Johns Episcopal Church, in Washington, March 24, 2019. Cliff Owen/AP, FILE
Special Counsel Robert Mueller walks past the White House after attending services at St. John's Episcopal Church, in Washington, March 24, 2019.

In July 2018, the special counsel's office indicted 12 additional Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic targets, including the Democratic National Committee, and then releasing stolen information online.

Since the last presidential election, voters have grappled with myriad headlines, such as the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica harvesting personal Facebook information without users' knowledge as early as September 2015.

As a result, there continues to be anxiety with some voters about whether the run up to the next presidential election will feel any safer, and questions as to whether Congress or the federal government more broadly have done enough to stem this type of interference and protect elections going forward.

The TIP with Trish Turner

On the eve of the redacted report's release, it's unlikely we'll see a cascade of press conferences. A number of lawmakers may appear on evening cable shows or send out tweets, but a few notable members are overseas on congressional delegation trips.

Democrats have criticized the timing, in the middle of a two-week recess with lawmakers scattered across the globe and a holiday weekend that begins on Friday.

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, Oct. 13, 2017, to discuss the Affordable Care Act. CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, Oct. 13, 2017, to discuss the Affordable Care Act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, is in London and doesn't return until Friday. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is also overseas. Barr is expected to testify on the report in front of Graham's committee on May 1 and then the House Judiciary Committee the following day.

ONE MORE THING

Special counsel Robert Mueller has conducted his nearly two-year investigation shrouded in secrecy, choosing to speak through indictments and court records with few if any leaks despite intense national scrutiny. But on Thursday, the American people will finally have a chance to read Mueller's findings for themselves. Here are five things to watch for when the redacted version of the special counsel's report is made public: https://abcn.ws/2IsoIIe

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams, who breaks down the different aspects that will be redacted in the Mueller report, which is set to be released Thursday. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl and Political Director Rick Klein speak with political adviser Jim Messina, who managed former President Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, about who can beat Donald Trump among the field of candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary. https://abcn.ws/2IrLWOm

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride at 10:30 a.m., then meets with the secretary of state at 11:45 a.m., then attends an intelligence briefing at 1:30 p.m., then leaves for Mar-a-Lago around 4 p.m.
  • Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. at the Department of Justice. The highly anticipated and redacted Mueller report is expected to be released to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon. Eastern.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden joins Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and UFCW Stop & Shop workers in Boston for a rally starting at 2 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., continues his "Justice for All" tour in Las Vegas with a meet-and-greet at 7 p.m. Pacific time.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., meets with Iowa caucus-goers during a three-day swing through the state, with stops in Indianola, Creston, Clarinda, Atlantic and Council Bluffs.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee continues his "Climate Mission" tour with a stop in Los Angeles to visit the LA Cleantech Incubator's Training Center at 10:15 a.m. local time.
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke returns to New Hampshire to meet with voters in Derry, Concord and Nashua.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., meets with the South Carolina Legislative black caucus in Spartanburg, South Carolina, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang hosts a rally in Atlanta at 6 p.m.

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