READING THE TEA LEAVES
All the Times the Mueller Report Was Coming ‘Soon’
A brief history of the media (wrongly) predicting the imminent conclusion of Robert Mueller's investigation.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was supposedly going to be completed as early as next week. Until it wasn’t.
Over the past few days, a number of major media outlets—including NBC News, the Washington Post, and CNN—reported that newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr was preparing to announce the conclusion of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But on Friday, Department of Justice sources said that the report would not be released next week.
The false alarm was just the latest in a line of imprecise and inaccurate estimates about when Mueller’s team plans to submit its report to the attorney general, and when a version of that report could be made public.
While Mueller’s team has kept tight-lipped on details of the report, Trump’s allies have been more than eager to share predictions and hypotheses about when the probe would conclude. This has led to a number of wildly wrong predictions by experts, media outlets and television pundits as they’ve attempted to divine Mueller’s inscrutable timing. Buckle up and try not to get whiplash as The Daily Beast walks you through all the times the media thought it knew when Mueller’s report was dropping:
- The Washington Post’s Robert Costa said on MSNBC last April that the Mueller team wanted to release multiple reports, including one in the summer of 2018, which allegedly had “different conclusions about the president’s conduct, his behavior while in office.” It’s unclear whether a report of this kind was submitted last summer, but either way it was not made public.
- While the paper didn’t make predictions about whether the probe would conclude, the Post reported in June that Mueller was “ pushing to write up his findings by summer’s end.”
- In July, Bloomberg News reported that Mueller had “an eye toward producing conclusions—and possible indictments—related to collusion by fall.”
- Politico didn’t give a specific date, but said in October 2018 that Mueller’s team appeared “eager to wrap it up.”
- Bloomberg News reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was “expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections,” but said they may not be made public.
- In November, ABC News said Mueller was writing his final report, but that there was “no clear timeline for when Mueller will wrap his investigation.”
- Vanity Fair went further, saying in November that the White House was bracing for the conclusion of the report possibly the second week of the month.
- The AP reported in November that the White House was bracing for the report to be dropped “soon.”
- A legal expert on Fox & Friends in November said Trump would “wrap things up” by the end of the year. Another expert told the CBC in November that Mueller “may finally be ready to reveal what he's learned in Russia probe” because he was afraid of being fired.
- In December 2018, NBC News said sources told them the Mueller report could be submitted to the attorney general “as early as mid-February.”
- The Hill said in December that an expert told them the probe was “wrapping up.”
- The Washington Post in December had another expert saying he expected the probe to conclude in the first three months of this year.
- In December, Yahoo reported that investigators said they were “tying up loose ends,” and that the investigation “may be coming to its climax, potentially in the next few weeks.”
- In February, NBC News, the Washington Post, CNN, and others reported that Mueller was preparing to submit his report to Barr as early as next week. But within two days, the same outlets had reversed course, saying Mueller had no plans to submit the report next week.