Although special lawyer Robert Mueller may be far from concluding his investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, legal experts are already debating the best way for him to end it.
This week, the public learned that the special lawyer's team told President Trump's attorneys that they are preparing a report on the president's actions while they were in office and that a second report detailing their findings on the interference of Russia could continue, according to multiple sources familiar with these discussions The disclosure of Mueller's plans to issue a report, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by ABC News, has quickly led to a discussion in the legal community about how must proceed.
According to federal law, Mueller must provide a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the conclusion of his investigation that explains the special lawyer's decisions on whether the prosecution is warranted or not.
Rosenstein will decide whether to make that report public.
Rosenstein is required by law to "notify" the presidents and minority members of the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee about the conclusion of the investigation "with an explanation of each action", but is not required to disclose the full report to Congress. While conducting their own investigations separately from possible Russian election interference, members of Congress may try to cite the special lawyer's report if Rosenstein refuses to hand him over.
Mueller's team will navigate unexplored waters when they determine the type of report to send. Mueller is the first special counsel appointed under new regulations to investigate an acting president.
"There are two models," said Paul Rosenzweig, a former lawyer for independent lawyer Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater investigation. "Mueller could write a basic report, about ten pages: I arrived, I saw, I did this, this is the result, goodbye," said Rosenzweig.
Or at the other end of the spectrum, Mueller could write a full report with everything they found, they saw and what they did, said Rosenzweig, who recalled that Starr The report that describes the case for the indictment of President Bill Clinton was two hundred pages of text, four volumes of exhibits and at least two documents full of documents.
"When it comes down to it, does Mueller see the work as a traditional criminal charge or a public truth commission?" Rosenzweig asked.
Rosenzweig told ABC News that if he were on Mueller's team, he would advocate for the "minimalist model" because Congress chose not to reproduce the idea of the "public truth commission" when it allowed the independent advisory law expire, and with it the requirement that an independent lawyer report his findings directly to the public. "I would like to take that lesson seriously," he said.
But Jonathan Turley, a law professor at the George Washington University School of Law, asked for a full report of Mueller's findings and expects the special attorney to write an extensive report that Rosenstein makes public.
"The public has lost faith in the twists of both parties in Congress," Turley told ABC News. "There is a real need for a full and independent account to be given to the public, and in the absence of such a record, it will be difficult for this deeply divided country to go beyond these controversies."
Harold Krent, dean of the Chicago-Kent School of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, said that if Mueller is already preparing reports for Rosenstein, it could mean that his investigation is ending. "I would not want to send an interim report that would inform their goals," Krent said. If it was his decision, Krent said he would prepare two reports, one for public consumption and another more detailed for Rosenstein and for select members of Congress.
"I feel that, whatever Mueller does, it should be expressed on the side of transparency, there is so much discussion and anguish, and it is important that the public understand the main parties involved in whether or not to prosecute" .
A spokesman for Mueller's team declined to comment on the status of the investigation.
The president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, told ABC News that "we do not discuss actual or alleged conversations between our legal team and the Office of the Special Adviser."
Mike Levine, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders, Jordyn Phelps and Matt Mosk of ABC News contributed to this report.