The White House expects to see special counsel Robert Mueller's report before it gets sent to Congress or released to the public in order to have the opportunity to claim executive privilege over information drawn from documents and interviews with White House officials, according to CNN sources.
This news sets up a political battle of perception President Donald Trump might withhold information from Americans, per the report.
"There's always tension between what looks best politically and what represents the interests of the institution – the office of the presidency," an anonymous White House source told CNN. "Preserving executive privilege trumps political optics."
Democrats will almost certainly challenge any White House claims of executive privilege in the report through the courts, and the Justice Department might advise the president on which claims of privilege might be legally defensible, CNN reported.
Democrats might also challenge Attorney General William Barr in courts for the complete release of the report.
Both the DOJ and White House declined comment to CNN.
"The White House shouldn't advise the attorney general on what it should share and not share – that's up the attorney general and he's independent on this one," former prosecutor Mark Tuohey, who had been involved in past special counsel probes, told CNN.
"The report by the special counsel, which could be the subject of a summary by the AG, focuses on potential conduct of the president of the United States and his aides and staff. That is not a matter to be discussed with the White House before the matter is sent to Congress."
Tuohey did submit it might be appropriate for Barr to review parts of the report with the White House.
"This White House will do everything legally in its power to work with the Democrats and the House to get them information that they need," a senior White House official told CNN. "But it has to be legal, it has to be right, and it has to be fair."
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