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Here’s what Russia has accomplished in Syria over the last two years

Russia’s agreement to assist its Syrian ally is credited with turning the wide of the Syrian conflict against terrorists.

The Duran

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Saturday marks the second anniversary of the anti-terror operation carried out by the Russian Armed Forces in Syria at request of Damascus.

The Syrian conflict that had flared up in March 2011 continues to this day. Several hundred illegal paramilitary units are fighting against government forces and among themselves. The Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fatah al Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) terrorist groups, both banned in a number of countries, including in Russia, are among the most serious enemies of the Syrian government forces. The so-called moderate Syrian opposition is yet another party to the conflict. During the beginning of the conflict, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was one of the moderate opposition’s most combat effective parts. The Kurds, who are also one of the most combat-ready warring parties, have initially sided with the FSA but later decided to carry out their own operations.

On September 30, 2015, then-Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov said that Syrian President Bashar Assad had called on Moscow to provide military assistance. Russian President Vladimir Putin requested the Federation Council’s consent for deploying Russian military contingent abroad. The lawmakers had unanimously supported the president’s request.

That same day, acting in accordance with Putin’s decision aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces launched high-precision strikes against IS ground targets in Syria. In an effort to coordinate their anti-terror activities, Russia, Iraq, Iran and Syria established an information center in Baghdad. Its experts started gathering, processing, summarizing and analyzing data on the regional situation. They also moved to quickly provide this data to the general staffs of the countries participating in the center’s activities.

A battle group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces featuring over 50 planes and helicopters began to carry out combat missions. This group consisted of Su-24M and Su-34 fighter-bombers, Tu-22M3 bombers, Su-25SM strike aircraft, Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters, Mi-24 and Mi-8AMTSH helicopters. The Russian side also began to use reconnaissance satellites and drones in the anti-terror struggle.

Russian servicemen involved in the aerial operation are stationed at the Hmeimim air base near Latakia. The air base receives all its logistic supplies from Russia. A reinforced Marine tactical battalion group is involved in guarding and defending the base. The Russian Navy’s Mediterranean task force defends the base against possible air strikes and also ensures the delivery of required supplies.

During the first month of the Syrian operation, the Russian aircraft conducted 1,391 combat missions and destroyed 249 command and communications centers, 51 terrorist training camps, 35 plants and workshops, 131 ammunition and fuel depots, 371 strongpoints and fortified areas, 786 field camps and bases. On October 7, 2015, Russian warships joined the anti-terror operation for the first time and launched 26 Kalibr cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea. The missiles destroyed 11 targets of the terrorists.

On November 17, Russia used its strategic bombers for the first time during the aerial operation. Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 bombers carried out a large-scale strike against IS positions in the Middle Eastern state. This day will go down in history because Russia’s Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers have never been used in combat before. They received their baptism of fire in the Syrian skies.

On November 20, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Aerospace Force’s group had been increased up to 69 aircraft. At that moment, Russia’s naval group participating in the anti-terror operation comprised of 10 warships, including six ones in the Mediterranean Sea.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 aircraft downed a Russian Su-24 over the Syrian territory. After that incident, Putin ordered to equip the Russian air base in Syria with S-400 air defense systems.

On December 8, Russia’s submerged Kilo-class Rostov-on-Don submarine launched its Kalibr cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea for the first time and hit all designated targets.

Initially, Russian warplanes hit enemy command centers, headquarters, communications facilities, weapons, ammunition and petroleum, fuel depots, tiny plants manufacturing improvised explosive devices and car bombs for IS militants.

Eventually, the Russian side focused on the efforts to deprive radical Islamists of their sources of revenue. They hit IS-controlled oil rigs, refineries and oil transportation facilities. Russian aircraft also started flying search-and-destroy missions against fuel trucks.

Due to Russian airstrikes, the militants started retreating and lost most of their frontline weapons and equipment. According to reconnaissance and intelligence reports, terrorists changed their tactics, became more cautious and started resorting to camouflage more often.

The Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation forced the opposition to enter into peace talks with Damascus in order to settle the crisis by political means.

The intra-Syrian talks began on January 29, 2016 in Geneva in line with the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2254.

On February 22, Russia and the United States announced a ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government forces and the opposition’s paramilitary units.

The Syrian ceasefire regime officially entered into force in the early hours of February 27. It did not involve IS and the Nusra Front as well as other groups listed as terrorist organizations by the UNSC.

The activities of the Russian Aerospace Forces were significantly curtailed after the ceasefire agreement had been reached.

On March 14, Putin ordered Shoigu to start withdrawing the Russian air group from Syria starting from March 15.

From September 2015 through March 2016, Russian aircraft carried out over 9,000 sorties, killed thousands of militants and destroyed 209 oil refineries and processing facilities. The Russian airstrikes helped the troops loyal to Damascus to liberate about 400 settlements and over 10,000 square kilometers (some 3,800 square miles) of the country’s territory.

While withdrawing the group from Syria, Russia did not renounce its obligations to supply the Syrian government with weapons and military equipment and to train military experts. The Hmeimim air base and the Russian Navy’s logistics support facility in Tartus continued their operations.

On December 29, Putin announced the signing of three important documents. The first document stipulated a ceasefire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition in Syria. The second document listed various measures to monitor the ceasefire regime. And the third one noted a readiness to launch talks on the Syrian peace settlement.

It became possible to sign these documents after two-month Turkish-mediated talks between the Russian Defense Ministry, leaders of the moderate Syrian opposition groups and Damascus.

A total of seven groups, which were the core of the Syrian armed opposition including some 60,000 militants, signed ceasefire agreements.

The ceasefire regime entered into force across the Syrian territory at midnight December 30, with Russia, Turkey and Iran acting as its guarantors.

On January 18, 2017, Russia and Syria signed an agreement on expanding and upgrading the Russian naval maintenance facility in Tartus, as well as a protocol setting forth terms for the deployment of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft in Syria. The agreement on expanding and upgrading the Tartus facility has duration of 49 years and automatically extends for subsequent 25-year periods. Under the document, Tartus can simultaneously accommodate 11 Russian warships, including nuclear-powered vessels, provided that nuclear and environmental safety standards are complied with.

From September 2015 through September 2017, the Russian Aerospace Force flew over 30,000 combat missions, launched over 92,000 air strikes and hit over 96,000 terrorist facilities. The Russian forces destroyed 8,332 command centers, 17,194 strongpoints, 53,707 militant groups, 970 training camps, 6,769 weapons and ammunition warehouses, 212 oil deposits, 184 refineries, 132 fuel pumping stations and fuel truck convoys and 9,328 other facilities.

As of September 2017, IS militants have been expelled from over 87 percent of Syria’s territory.

The activities of the International Mine Action Center of the Russian Armed Forces had resulted in demining of 60,384 explosive devices on the territory of 5,295 hectares (over 13,000 acres), including in Palmira, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. Russian specialists have already prepared 586 Syrian sappers and 102 more Syrians are currently being trained by the center.

Russian forces have seriously damaged the terrorists’ control system and logistics support infrastructure. The main weapons and ammunition supply routes are no longer used. Terrorist organizations have lost their profit from illegal oil trade.

The military are currently fighting terrorists in eastern and central Syria. In early September, government forces and their allies managed to lift the three-year siege around the city of Deir ez-Zor. Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, the chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate, said that this operation was the most important victory over extremists in Syria during the entire war.

Air-launched and sea-launched cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (over 930 miles) are also used by the Russian Armed Forces to destroy the most important terrorist facilities. They are launched by warships, submarines, long-range and strategic bombers.

Russian special operations units play an important role in the conducted anti-terror operations. They eliminate terrorist leaders, destroy vital facilities of the militants and adjust the airstrikes of the Russian aircraft.

Russian military advisers also provide significant support to the Syrian army’s high command being actively involved in planning military operations, training and preparing Syrian servicemen.

An integrated air defense system has been established in Syria. Moscow and Damascus have ensured the interoperability of their airspace reconnaissance systems. Syrian radars relay all air situation data to the Russian military group’s command centers.

Air defense elements near the Hmeimim air base include a radio-technical battalion, one battery of Pantsir-S missile air defense systems and S-400 systems. Russian air defense systems can hit all aerial targets up to 400 kilometers away and at altitude of up to 35 kilometers.

The Syrian operation allowed the Russian military to train simultaneous air and naval strikes that had confirmed the Russian Navy’s ability to hit the enemy on any scale.

Since the beginning of the operation, Russia has tested over 200 weapon systems that have proved their high effectiveness. The Russian servicemen focused on new weapons, in order to quickly detect and eliminate their drawbacks.

In order to exchange the information about the situation in air and to rule out the incidents involving military aircraft, the command of the Russian group started cooperating with the US operational center in Jordan, the Qatar-based center of joint US air operations, the Turkish Air Force’s control center and the Israeli command center.

A troop control system, deployed in Syria, helps maintaining close cooperation between the Russian Aerospace Forces, government forces, the Republican Guard, self-defense units and militias.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation continues to operate, with 2,237 settlements joining the nationwide peace process through its efforts.

Talks are underway to involve the armed opposition’s units in the Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Quneitra governorates in the ceasefire regime.

Syrian peace settlement talks are held in the two cities, namely Geneva and Astana.

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part I – cold, hard reality

The full text of Attorney General William P Barr’s summary is here offered, with emphases on points for further analysis.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The conclusion of the Russiagate investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was a pivotal media watershed moment. Even at the time of this writing there is a great deal of what might be called “journalistic froth” as opinion makers and analysts jostle to make their takes on this known to the world. Passions are running very high in both the Democrat / anti-Trump camps, where the reactions range from despondency to determined rage to not swallow the gigantic red pill that the “no collusion with Russia” determination offers. In the pro-Trump camp, the mood is deserved relief, but many who support the President are also realists, and they know this conflict is not over.

Where the pivot will go and what all this means is something that will unfold, probably relatively quickly, over the next week or two. But we want to offer a starting point here from which to base further analysis. At this time, of course, there are few hard facts other than the fact that Robert Mueller III submitted his report to the US Attorney General, William Barr, who then wrote and released his own report to the public Sunday evening. We reproduce that report here in full, with some emphases added to points that we think will be relevant to forthcoming pieces on this topic.

The end of the Mueller investigation brings concerns, hopes and fears to many people, on topics such as:

  • Will President Trump now begin to normalize relations with President Putin at full speed?
  • In what direction will the Democrats pivot to continue their attacks against the President?
  • What does this finding to to the 2020 race?
  • What does this finding do to the credibility of the United States’ leadership establishment, both at home and abroad?
  • What can we learn about our nation and culture from this investigation?
  • How does a false narrative get maintained so easily for so long, and
  • What do we do, or what CAN we do to prevent this being repeated?

These questions and more will be addressed in forthcoming pieces. But for now, here is the full text of the letter written by Attorney General William Barr concerning the Russia collusion investigation.

Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:
As a supplement to the notification provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and to inform you about the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.
The Special Counsel’s Report
On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted to me a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c). This report is entitled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.
The report explains that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations that members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and others associated with it, conspired with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or sought to obstruct the related federal investigations. In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The Special Counsel obtained a number of indictments and convictions of individuals and entities in connection with his investigation, all of which have been publicly disclosed. During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. Below, I summarize the principal conclusions set out in the Special Counsel’s report.
Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
The Special Counsel’s report is divided into two parts. The first describes the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts. The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel’s investigation was whether any Americans including individuals associated with the Trump campaign joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime. The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.
The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.
Obstruction of Justice.
The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President most of which have been the subject of public reporting that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel’s office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel’s obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Status of the Department’s Review
The relevant regulations contemplate that the Special Counsel’s report will be a “confidential report” to the Attorney General. See Office of Special Counsel, 64 Fed. Reg. 37,038, 37,040-41 (July 9, 1999). As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to “matter[s] occurring before grand jury.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B) Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g. 18 U.S.C. 401(3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.
Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
* * *
As I observed in my initial notification, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” notifications to your respective Committees “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.
Sincerely,
William P. Barr
Attorney General

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