There should never be a presumption in favor of crediting the one-sided reports prepared by prosecutors. Such reports have no higher status than an indictment, and an indictment handed up by a grand jury is not proof of guilt—only a charging instrument. Like an indictment, a special counsel’s report should not undercut the presumption of innocence.
That is why it is so important for the president’s legal team to be accorded an opportunity to present its own report, based on its own investigation, its own evidence, and its own knowledge of the facts. To make the rebuttal presentation fair, the Mueller report should be presented confidentially to the attorney general or his designee, as the regulations require. A copy should also be provided to the president’s legal team. The attorney general should not allow the special counsel’s report to be made public—and should take care that it’s not leaked—until the president’s team has had a chance to review and respond to it. The attorney general should then issue both reports so that the media and the public have a chance to assess them in tandem. Simultaneous disclosure is permissible under the rules, and everybody would benefit if both reports are issued at the same time.