A Page-By-Page Guide To The Redacted Mueller Report
History is being written before our eyes. A redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report was released at 11 am on Thursday, April 18, 2019.
The report, entitled “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election,” is incredibly detailed, confirms years of reporting, and includes damning new details. It outlines exactly what Russia did to interfere in American democracy, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, and President Trump’s endeavor to obstruct justice.
While Attorney General William Barr attempted to spin the report as a positive, the Mueller report is the most damning development of Trump’s presidency thus far. In a nutshell, the report details how Donald Trump and his associates were receptive to Russia’s election help and President Trump’s subsequent efforts to obstruct the federal investigation into that conduct. One has to wonder how much more of an impact this report would have had if none of the details in the report were previously revealed.
While the report reflected poorly on Donald Trump and his associates, it was also bad for Barr’s reputation. The report also proves that Barr materially mischaracterized the report in some key areas. In his press conference on Thursday morning, Barr repeatedly claimed that Mueller found “no collusion.” That is false. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy. Mueller’s report outlines over 100 pages worth of collusion evidence.
Barr also claimed that the Office of Legal Counsel’s memo which argued a sitting president cannot be indicted didn’t factor into Mueller’s decision-making. Mueller explicitly says it was a factor. Barr also omitted the following from his summary which indicated Trump wasn’t found guilty of a criminal conspiracy with Russia: “…the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Yes, history is being written before our eyes, but we all can play a role in writing it. One of the key components of the report is that Mueller sought to leave the obstruction of justice determination up to Congress, not Barr – who ultimately cleared Trump. This is essentially a roadmap for impeachment. Will House Democrats choose to pursue impeachment proceedings after the damning evidence in this report?
You can read the full report for yourself or stick around and see the key highlights below. The page numbers listed below are in reference to where it is located on the pdf, not the page numbers at the bottom of each page.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Mueller Report Volume I, Pages 1 – 207: Russian Interference And Collusion
Volume I of the report focused on Russia’s election interference methods and the Trump campaign’s collusion with those methods. As we anticipated, the report does a detailed chronicling of all the links between Russia’s interference and the Trump campaign. You can find a bird’s eye view of it in the table of contents on page 4 of the pdf.
So let’s dive in. Page 9-10 is an introduction to Volume I, which contains a broad overview of what Russia did and the Trump campaign’s involvement, which showcase Barr’s selective quoting in his summary:
First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
Also on page 10, Mueller specifically mentions that they did not evaluate the concept of “collusion”, which renders Barr’s claim of “no collusion” false.
In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.”
Pages 12-18 contain the Executive Summary to Volume I. The summary goes on to summarize the Russian contacts with the Trump Campaign (will focus on the specifics later):
The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the Campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for Campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved U.S.-Russian relations.
It also goes on to mention how Trump associates’ dishonesty impaired the investigation.
…the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.
..the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated—including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption.
Pages 19-21 discuss the Special Counsel Investigation, its resources, and scope.
Russian Troll Farm Operation
Pages 22-43 begin to outline Russia’s active measures, which include the Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) troll farm operation which began in mid-2014 and pushed pro-Trump propaganda on social media throughout the 2016 election. This part of Volume I featured a good amount redactions with the explanation: “Harm To Ongoing Matter”.
When it comes to the IRA, it detailed how the Trump Campaign promoted their propaganda online. From page 41:
Among the U.S. “leaders of public opinion” targeted by the IRA were various members and surrogates of the Trump Campaign. In total, Trump Campaign affiliates promoted dozens of tweets, posts , and other political content created by the IRA .
On Page 43, the report details how the IRA made overtures to the Trump Campaign:
Starting in June 2016, the IRA contacted different U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump Campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump IRA-organized rallies inside the United States. In all cases, the IRA contacted the Campaign while claiming to be U.S. political activists working on behalf of a conservative grassroots organization. The IRA’s contacts included requests for signs and other materials to use at rallies, as well as requests to promote the rallies and help coordinate Iogistics. While certain campaign volunteers agreed to provide the requested support (for example, agreeing to set aside a number of signs), the investigation has not identified evidence that any Trump Campaign official understood the requests were coming from foreign nationals.
Russian Hacking, Wikileaks Dumps, And The Trump Campaign/Transition
Pages 44-73 outline the Russian government’s hacking of the Clinton Campaign in early 2016, the attempted hacking of state and local elections, their subsequent leaking of Democratic emails in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton, and the Trump Campaign’s promotion of those leaks.
Page 44 begins with the broad view of the Russian Intelligence Service (GRU) running the hacks and subsequently releasing the hacked material through “DCLeaks,” “Guccifer 2.0,” and Wikileaks.
Starting on page 59, the Trump Campaign comes into play. There are quite a few redactions in this section, if Barr wasn’t redacting in bad faith one can assume it’s pertaining to the Roger Stone case. It paints the picture of the Trump Campaign being looped into future Wikileaks dumps, which has been previously outlined in Roger Stone’s indictment.
On page 62:
According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks.
After redactions, it appears Trump was told on a phone call about incoming Wikileaks dumps:
…shortly after the call candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.
Page 66 discusses how Wikileaks published Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails directly after the Access Hollywood “grab em by the pussy” Tape was released. Page 67-68 discusses Donald Trump Jr.’s previously reported direct communications with Wikileaks’ Twitter account. The report reveals Trump Jr. told senior Trump Campaign officials about those contacts and the Campaign’s public efforts to boost those Wikileaks dumps.
Page 70 of the report reveals that President Trump ordered then-Campaign Adviser Michael Flynn to find Clinton’s stolen emails, and that’s how Flynn contacted Peter Smith:
After candidate Trump stated on July 27, 2016, that he hoped Russia would “find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails. Michael Flynn-who would later serve as National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration – recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.
Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith were among the people contacted by Flynn. Ledeen, a long-time Senate staffer who had previously sought the Clinton emails, provided updates to Flynn about her efforts throughout the summer of 2016.266 Smith, an investment advisor who was active in Republican politics, also attempted to locate and obtain the deleted Clinton emails.267
Leeden tried to get foreign entities to aid in obtaining the emails.
Attached to the email was a 25-page proposal stating that the “Clinton email server was, in all likelihood , breached long ago,” and that the Chinese, Russian, and Iranian intelligence services could “re-assemble the server’s email content.”
Ultimately they did not obtain the emails. Concluding this section, it ends with an ominous redaction:
In sum, the investigation established that the GRU hacked into email accounts of persons affiliated with the Clinton Campaign, as well as the computers of the DNC and DCCC. The GRU then exfiltrated data related to the 2016 election from these accounts and computers, and disseminated that data through fictitious online personas (DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0) and later through WikiLeaks. The investigation also established that the Trum Cam ai n dis la ed interest in the WikiLeaks releases, and that [REDACTED].
Trump Campaign Collusion With Russia
While the report did not find a criminal conspiracy, pages 74-181 cover the Trump Campaign and Transition’s links to the Russian government. In summary, it covers the over 16 Trump associates who had over 100 contacts or meetings with Russian nationals during the course of the Campaign (September 2015-November 8, 2016) and Transition. Here are some of the key contacts.
When it comes to the Trump Campaign, page 74 summarizes:
As set forth below, the Office also evaluated a series of links during this period: outreach to two of Trump ‘s then-recently named foreign policy advisors, including a representation that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails (Volume I, Sections IV.A.2 & IV.A.3); dealings with a D.C.-based think tank that specializes in Russia and has connections with its government (Volume I, Section IV.A.4); a meeting at Trump Tower between the Campaign and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on candidate Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for [Trump]” (Volume I, Section IV.A.5); events at the Republican National Convention (Volume I, Section IV.A.6); post-Convention contacts betwe en Trump Campaign officials and Russia’s ambassador to the United States (Volume I, Section IV.A.7); and contacts through campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had previously worked for a Russian oligarch and a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine (Volume I, Section IV.A.8).
Pages 75-88 discusses the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Page 75:
Between at least 2013 and 2016, the Trump Organization explored a similar licensing deal in Russia involving the construction of a Trump-branded property in Moscow. The project, commonly referred to as a “Trump Tower Moscow” or “Trump Moscow” project , anticipated a combination of commercial , hotel , and residential properties all within the same building. Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including thenpresident of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties. From the fall of 2015 until the middle of 2016, Michael Cohen spearheaded the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow project, including by reporting on the project’s status to candidate Trump and other executives in the Trump Organization.
Page 78 cites the November 2015 letter of intent signed by Trump pursuing the Trump Tower Moscow deal and reiterates what has been previously reported about Trump associate Felix Sater:
On November 3, 2015, the day after the Trump Organization transmitted the LOI, Sater emailed Cohen suggesting that the Trump Moscow project could be used to increase candidate Trump’s chances at being elected, writing:
Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process …. Michael, Putin gets on stage with Donald for a ribbon cutting for Trump Moscow , and Donald owns the republican nomination. And possibly beats Hillary and our boy is in .. . . We will manage this process better than anyone. You and I will get Donald and Vladimir on a stage together very shortly. That the game changer.
The pages that follow show the back and forth contacts and the effort to have Donald Trump travel to Russia. The plans were never acted upon.
Pages 88-103 detail how then-Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos sought to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, kept the campaign in the loop on those efforts, and also how he was made aware of Russia’s dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Pages 103-111 includes details about then-Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page. In summary:
Carter Page worked for the Trump Campaign from January 2016 to September 2016. He was formally and publicly announced as a foreign policy advisor by the candidate in March 2016. 516 Page had lived and worked in Russia, and he had been approached by Russian intelligence officers several years before he volunteered for the Trump Campaign. During his time with the Campaign, Page advocated pro-Russia foreign policy positions and traveled to Moscow in his personal capacity. Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. 508
Pages 111-118 discuss the Trump Campaign’s contacts with the Center of the National Interest:
Members of the Trump Campaign interacted on several occasions with the Center for the National Interest (CNI), principally through its President and Chief Executive Officer, Dimitri Simes. CNI is a think tank with expertise in and connections to the Russian government. Simes was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. In April 2016, candidate Trump delivered his first speech on foreign policy and national security at an event hosted by the National Interest, a publication affiliated with CNI. Then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Russian Ambassador Kislyak both attended the event and, as a result, it gained some attention in relation to Sessions’s confirmation hearings to become Attorney General. Sessions had various other contacts with CNI during the campaign period on foreign-policy matters, including Russia. Jared Kushner also interacted with Simes about Russian issues during the campaign. The investigation did not identify evidence that the Campaign passed or received any messages to or from the Russian government through CNI or Simes.
Pages 118-131 details the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting that has drawn a great deal of scrutiny. It details how Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort held a meeting in Trump Tower seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives. It ultimately concludes that they did not receive dirt in the meeting but the Magnitsky Act sanctions were discussed. It outlines a lot of previously reported details, including email correspondences. Although Cohen testified that he believed Jr. told Donald Trump Sr. of the meeting, Mueller could not prove it.
Pages 131-137 detail events at the Republican National Convention. In summary:
Trump Campaign officials met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the week of the Republican National Convention . The evidence indicates that those interactions were brief and non-substantive. During platform committee meetings immediately before the Convention, J.D. Gordon, a senior Campaign advisor on policy and national security, diluted a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform expressing support for providing “lethal” assistance to Ukraine in response to Russian aggression.
Pages 137-152 discussed then-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his Russian contacts. The most damning of which involves suspected Russian Intelligence Operative Konstantin Kilimnik. It confirmed that Manafort discussed the Ukrainian peace plan and offered a new development that expands on what Manafort gave Kilimnik. Page 148:
Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election. That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. According to Gates, it also included discussion of “battleground” states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.
Pages 152-181 cover the Trump Transition’s key contacts with Russia. In summary:
Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016. Beginning immediately after the election, individuals connected to the Russian government started contacting officials on the Trump Campaign and Transition Team through multiple channels-sometimes through Russian Ambassador Kislyak and at other times through individuals who sought reliable contacts through U.S. persons not formally tied to the Campaign or Transition Team. The most senior levels of the Russian government encouraged these efforts. The investigation did not establish that these efforts reflected or constituted coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia in its election interference activities.
It includes the Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev meeting in the Seychelles, then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s meeting with Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn in Trump Tower in November 2016, Kushner’s meeting with Sergey Gorkov who was representing VEB bank (under sanctions), and Michael Flynn’s various contacts including the promises to Kislyak to lift sanctions on Russia.
This section concluded as follows:
In sum, the investigation established multiple links between Trump Campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government. Those links included Russian offers of assistance to the Campaign. In some instances , the Campaign was receptive to the offer , while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away. Ultimately , the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.
Pages 182-207 outlines Mueller’s prosecution and declination decisions which include the reasoning behind the lack of a conspiracy charge.
Mueller Report Volume II, Pages 208 – 394: Obstruction Of Justice
Volume II of the report is focused on President Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. It begins with a table of contents and subsequent introduction on page 213, which contradicts Barr’s claim that Mueller did not consult the OLC memo when declining to prosecute:
First, a traditional prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to initiate or declin e a prosecution, but we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.”
Second, while the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a cr iminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible. The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office. And if individuals other than the President committed an obstruction offense, they may be prosecuted at this time.
Perhaps the most important component of the obstruction piece comes here on page 214. Mueller later signals that the next decision is up to Congress.
…if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President ‘s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
The Executive Summary between pages 215-226 outlines the 10 areas of obstructive conduct the Mueller investigation examined and subsequently evaluates “three statutory obstruction-of-justice elements: obstructive act, nexus to a proceeding, and intent.” We’ll cover the 10 points here in a numbered format below drawing from Mueller’s own summaries of each section for added succinct clarity. Will draw specific examples of noteworthy evidence when necessary. The report goes much further than I will here, explaining tbe Special Counsel’s perception of Trump’s intent in each obstructive act. The obstruction evidence is prefaced by a section on Wikileaks. Below covers pages 227-370.
The Campaign’s Response to Reports About Russian Support for Trump (Pages 227-235)
Mueller Overview: During the 2016 campaign, the media raised questions about a possible connection between the Trump Campaign and Russia. The questions intensified after WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia. Trump responded to questions about possible connections to Russia by denying any business involvement in Russia-even though the Trump Organization had pursued a business project in Russia as late as June 2016. Trump also expressed skepticism that Russia had hacked the emails at the same time as he and other Campaign advisors privately sought information about any further planned WikiLeaks releases. After the election, when questions persisted about possible links between Russia and the Trump Campaign, the President-Elect continued to deny any connections to Russia and privately expressed concerns that reports of Russian election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.
In a press conference the next day, July 27, 2016, Trump characterized “this whole thing with Russia” as “a total deflection” and stated that it was “farfetched” and “ridiculous.” 34 Trump said that the assertion that Russia had hacked the emails was unproven, but stated that it would give him “no pause” if Russia had Clinton’s emails. 35 Trump added, “Russia if you’re listening, I hope you ‘re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.
1. The President’s Conduct Concerning the Investigation of Michael Flynn (Pages 236-260)
Mueller Overview: During the presidential transition, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had two phone calls with the Russian Ambassador to the United States about the Russian response to U.S. sanctions imposed because of Russia’s election interference. After the press reported on Flynn’s contacts with the Russian Ambassador, Flynn lied to incoming Administration officials by saying he had not discussed sanctions on the calls. The officials publicly repeated those lies in press interviews. The FBI, which previously was investigating Flynn for other matters, interviewed him about the calls in the first week after the inauguration, and Flynn told similar lies to the FBI. On January 26, 2017, Department of Justice (DOJ) officials notified the White House that Flynn and the Russian Ambassador had discussed sanctions and that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI. The next night, the President had a private dinner with FBI Director James Comey in which he asked for Comey’s loyalty. On February 13, 2017, the President asked Flynn to resign. The following day, the President had a one-on-one conversation with Comey in which he said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
2. The President’s Reaction to Public Confirmation of the FBI’s Russia Investigation (Pages 260-273)
Mueller overview: In early March 2017, the President learned that Sessions was considering recusing from the Russia investigation and tried to prevent the recusal. After Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at Sessions for the decision and then privately asked Sessions to “unrecuse.” On March 20, 2017, Comey publicly disclosed the existence of the FBI’s Russia investigation. In the days that followed, the President contacted Comey and other intelligence agency leaders and asked them to push back publicly on the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort in order to “lift the cloud ” of the ongoing investigation.
The President wanted McGahn to talk to Sessions about the recusal, but McGahn told the President that DOJ ethics officials had weighed in on Sessions’s decision to recuse. 296 The President then brought up former Attorneys General Robert Kennedy and Eric Holder and said that they had protected their presidents. 297 The President also pushed back on the DOJ contacts policy, and said words to the effect of, “You’re telling me that Bobby and Jack didn’t talk about investigations? Or Obama didn’t tell Eric Holder who to investigate?
On March 22, 2017, the President asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA Director Michael Pompeo to stay behind in the Oval Office after a Presidential Daily Briefing. 334 According to Coats , the President asked them whether they could say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia.
3. Events Leading Up To and Surrounding the Termination of FBI Director Comey (Pages 274-289)
Mueller overview: Comey was scheduled to testify before Congress on May 3, 2017. Leading up to that testimony , the President continued to tell advisors that he wanted Comey to make public that the President was not under investigation. At the hearing, Comey declined to answer questions about the scope or subjects of the Russia investigation and did not state publicly that the President was not under investigation. Two days later, on May 5, 2017, the President told close aides he was going to fire Comey, and on May 9, he did so, using his official termination letter to make public that Comey had on three occasions informed the President that he was not under investigation. The President decided to fire Comey before receiving advice or a recommendation from the Department of Justice, but he approved an initial public account of the termination that attributed it to a recommendation from the Department of Justice based on Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. After Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resisted attributing the firing to his recommendation, the President acknowledged that he intended to fire Comey regardless of the DOJ recommendation and was thinking of the Russia investigation when he made the decision. The President also told the Russian Foreign Minister, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off ….. I’m not under investigation.”
Intent. Substantial evidence indicates that the catalyst for the President ’s decision to fire Comey was Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that the President was not personally under investigation, despite the President’s repeated requests that Comey make such an announcement.
4. The President’s Efforts to Remove the Special Counsel (Pages 289-302)
Mueller overview: The Acting Attorney General appointed a Special Counsel on May 17, 2017, prompting the President to state that it was the end of his presidency and that Attorney General Sessions had failed to protect him and should resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, which the President ultimately did not accept. The President told senior advisors that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest, but they responded that those claims were “ridiculous” and posed no obstacle to the Special Counsel ‘s service. Department of Justice ethics officials similarly cleared the Special Counsel’s service. On June 14, 2017, the press reported that the President was being personally investigated for obstruction of justice and the President responded with a series of tweets criticizing the Special Counsel ‘s investigation. That weekend, the President called McGahn and directed him to have the Special Counsel removed because of asserted conflicts of interest. McGahn did not carry out the instruction for fear of being seen as triggering another Saturday Night Massacre and instead prepared to resign. McGahn ultimately did not quit and the President did not follow up with McGahn on his request to have the Special Counsel removed.
According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked .”
Priebus recalled that McGahn said that the President had asked him to “do crazy shit,” but he thought McGahn did not tell him the specifics of the President ‘s request because McGahn was trying to protect Priebus from what he did not need to know.
Intent. Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct – and, most immediately, to reports that the President was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.
5. The President’s Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation (Pages 289-210)
Mueller overview: Two days after the President directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation. On June 19, 20 17, the President met one-on-one with Corey Lewandowski in the Oval Office and dictated a message to be delivered to Attorney General Sessions that would have had the effect of limiting the Russia investigation to future election interference only. One month later, the President met again with Lewandowski and followed up on the request to have Sessions limit the scope of the Russia investigation. Lewandowski told the President the message would be delivered soon. Hours later, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an unplanned press interview, raising questions about Sessions’ job security.
Intent. Substantial evidence indicates that the President ‘s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President ‘ s and his campaign’s conduct.
6. The President’s Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails About the June 9, 2016 Meeting Between Russians and Senior Campaign Officials (Pages 310-319)
Mueller overview: By June 2017, the President became aware of emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” On multiple occasions in late June and early July 2017, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails, and he then dictated a statement about the meeting to be issued by Donald Trump Jr. describing the meeting as about adoption.
Intent. The evidence establishes the President’ s substantial involvement in the communications strategy related to information about his campaign’s connections to Russia and his desire to minimize public disclosures about those connections.
7. The President’s Further Efforts to Have the Attorney General Take Over the Investigation (Pages 319-325)
Mueller overview: From summer 2017 through 2018, the President attempted to have Attorney General Sessions reverse his recusal, take control of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and order an investigation of Hillary Clinton.
Intent. There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President ‘s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope.
8. The President Orders McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel (Pages 325-332)
Mueller overview: In late January 2018, the media reported that in June 2017 the President had ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel fired based on purported conflicts of interest but McGahn had refused, saying he would quit instead. After the story broke, the President, through his personal counsel and two aides, sought to have McGahn deny that he had been directed to remove the Special Counsel. Each time he was approached, McGahn responded that he would not refute the press accounts because they were accurate in reporting on the President’s effort to have the Special Counsel removed. The President later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office with only the Chief of Staff present and tried to get McGahn to say that the President never ordered him to fire the Special Counsel. McGahn refused and insisted his memory of the President ‘s direction to remove the Special Counsel was accurate. In that same meeting, the President challenged McGahn for taking notes of his discussions with the President and asked why he had told Special Counsel investigators that he had been directed to have the Special Counsel removed.
Intent. Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn ‘s account in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President’s conduct towards the investigation.
9. The President’s Conduct Towards Flynn, Manafort, [REDACTED] (Pages 332-345)
Mueller overview: In addition to the interactions with McGahn described above, the President has taken other actions directed at possible witnesses in the Special Counsel’s investigation, including Flynn, Manafort, [REDACTED] and as described in the next section, Cohen. When Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the President, the President ‘s personal counsel stated that Flynn’s actions would be viewed as reflecting “hostility” towards the President. During Manafort ‘s prosecution and while the jury was deliberating, the President repeatedly stated that Manafort was being treated “unfairly” and made it known that Manafort could receive a pardon. [REDACTED}
10. The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen (Pages 345-370)
Mueller overview: The President’s conduct involving Michael Cohen spans the full period of our investigation. During the campaign, Cohen pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project on behalf of the Trump Organization. Cohen briefed candidate Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal. After the media began questioning Trump ‘s connections to Russia, Cohen promoted a “party line” that publicly distanced Trump from Russia and asserted he had no business there. Cohen continued to adhere to that party line in 2017, when Congress asked him to provide documents and testimony in its Russia investigation. In an attempt to minimize the President’s connections to Russia, Cohen submitted a letter to Congress falsely stating that he only briefed Trump on the Trump Tower Moscow project three times, that he did not consider asking Trump to travel to Russia, that Cohen had not received a response to an outreach he made to the Russian government, and that the project ended in January 2016, before the first Republican caucus or primary. While working on the congressional statement, Cohen had extensive discussions with the President ‘s personal counsel, who, according to Cohen, said that Cohen should not contradict the President and should keep the statement short and “tight.” After the FBI searched Cohen ‘s home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not “flip” and privately passed messages of support to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message, he would get a pardon or the President would do “something else” to make the investigation end. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in July 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat,” and suggested his family members had committed crimes.
Intent. In analyzing the President’s intent in his actions towards Cohen as a potential witness, there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements.
The President ‘s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.
Pages 371-393 discuss the legal statutes the Special Counsel took into consideration. The bottom line comes on page 382:
Under OLC’s analysis, Congress can permissibly criminalize ce1tain obstructive conduct by the President, such as suborning perjury, intimidating witnesses, or fabricating evidence, because those prohibitions raise no separation-of-powers questions. See Application of 28 U.S.C. § 458 to Presidential Appointments of Federal Judges, 19 Op. O.L.C. at 357 n.11. The Constitution does not authorize the President to engage in such conduct, and those actions would transgress the President’s duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed. ” U.S. CONST. ART IT, §§ 3. In view of those clearly permissible applications of the obstruction statutes to the President, Franklin’s holding that the President is entirely excluded from a statute absent a clear statement would not apply in this context.
On page 392-393, Mueller summarizes:
In sum, contrary to the position taken by the President ‘s counsel, we concluded that, in light of the Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues, we had a valid basis for investigating the conduct at issue in this report. In our view, the application of the obstruction statutes would not impermissibly burden the President’s performance of his Article II function to supervise prosecutorial conduct or to remove inferior law-enforcement officers. And the protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person-including the President-accords with the fundamental principle of our government that “[n]o [person] in this country is so high that he is above the law.” United States v. Lee, I 06 U.S. 196, 220 (1882); see also Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. at 697; the United States v. Nixon, supra.
The remainder of the pages include Appendixes and President Trump’s answers to Mueller’s questions, which include several instances of “no recollection” and “do not recall.”Try Amazon Prime 30-day free trial!
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