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As Washington braces for Mueller report, Trump says he's in the dark, too

The president said earlier this week that the public should see the report.
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President Donald Trump on Friday continued to claim there was "no collusion" between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia as Washington braces for special counsel Robert Mueller's highly anticipated report.

"I have no idea about [the] Mueller report," Trump told reporters outside the White House before he departed for a meeting with foreign leaders at his private Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. "We're going to see what happens, it's going to be very interesting...there was no collusion, there was no obstruction — everybody knows it. It's all a big hoax."

He added that Attorney General William Barr "will ultimately make a decision" about the report's release.

Trump noted that he did not know when Mueller would submit his report when asked if the report would be submitted on Friday. Recent high-profile departures from the special counsel's office, including top prosecutor Andrew Weissmann and top FBI investigator David Archey, has led to public speculation that Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation.

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Mueller is required to submit the report to Barr at the conclusion of his investigation into Russian election interference and Trump. Barr, in turn, is required to notify Congress about Mueller's findings. The report must explain Mueller's "prosecution or declination decisions," according to special counsel regulations. However, Justice Department regulations do not require Barr to give a comprehensive report to lawmakers.

Earlier this week, Trump told reporters he doesn't understand why Mueller is writing a report, but that he wants the general public to see it anyway.

"I have no idea when it's going to be released," he said. "It's interesting that a man gets appointed by a deputy, he writes a report, uh, you know, never figured that one out. Man gets appointed by a deputy, he writes a report."

He added, "At the same time, let it come out, let people see it."

As Mueller's investigation reaches the nearly two-year mark, he has secured convictions of top Trump officials like campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. However, the special counsel has yet to make a direct allegation of collusion. Last year, in two separate indictments, Mueller charged more than two dozen Russian nationals or officials with several federal crimes related to Moscow's 2016 election meddling.

Trump on Friday also slammed House Democrats for their parallel Russia investigation as well as new probes into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing within the Trump administration and Trump's businesses.

"It's just a continuation of the same witch hunt," he said, referring to Mueller's probe. "They know it and behind closed doors, they laugh at it...they ought to go to work, get infrastructure done and get a lot of other things done instead of wasting everybody's time."

One area of investigation by Democrats include the use of private email accounts or messaging applications by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump and other White House officials.

House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said earlier this week that among the committee’s concerns is an admission by Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, that Kushner "has been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official White House duties to communicate with foreign leaders."

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record “using a non-official electronic message account.”

Trump, on Friday, sidestepped a question about the inquiry into Kushner's use of the encrypted messaging app.

"I know nothing about it. I've never heard that. I've never heard about it," Trump said.