This Is Why Trump Fears The Incoming Mueller Report
On Thursday, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is set to be released. Here’s what to expect and what could happen next.
Tomorrow our political reality will change — a critical moment over 22 months in the making. On Thursday, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign’s connection to that interference, and President Trump’s potential obstruction of justice is set to be released.
On March 24, Attorney General William Barr initially released a 4-page summary of Mueller’s nearly 400-page report. Barr released this after receiving the report less than 48 hours earlier. Given Barr’s previous 19-page memo declaring a president can’t obstruct justice, the summary stirred controversy when Barr took it upon himself to clear President Trump of obstruction. Barr also alleged that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge the Trump campaign in a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government.
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Many were skeptical of Barr’s report, and for good reason. Multiple news organizations reported that some on Mueller’s team believe Barr downplayed their findings. They have reportedly told associates that the evidence of obstruction of justice they found was “alarming and significant”. And when it comes to conspiracy, although they could not find enough evidence to charge it criminally, the evidence of collusion was “compelling”.
Of the 101 words of Mueller’s report Barr cited in his summary, there was this important quote: “‘…while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’” In spite of this, President Trump claimed “total and complete exoneration” in the aftermath of the summary, but his tone suddenly shifted thereafter. President Trump then began calling Mueller and his investigators treasonous and made clear he wants the report suppressed. It appears he has grown aware of how politically ruinous the report could be. It’s now been reported that the Justice Departement has discussed the White House about the conclusions in the report. Former and current White House officials are reportedly concerned that the report may expose that they gave Mueller damning evidence against President Trump. Trump’s lawyers have also reportedly prepared a counter-report.
Over the lifetime of the probe, the Special Counsel levied 37 indictments, 6 of which were indictments of Trump associates – 5 pleaded guilty. That included the indictments of 25 Russian individuals or entities for hacking and leaking Democratic emails as well as running the Russian troll operation. Mueller’s investigation was cheaper and more efficient than past investigations of its kind. Robert Mueller told a story with those indictments, depicting the extent of Russia’s attack on American democracy. Now we’re about to see a more robust story.
Barr has been working with Mueller’s team to redact the report. Barr has said that he will be redacting grand jury material, information that compromises intelligence sources and methods, and also information that infringes upon “the privacy or reputational interests of peripheral players where there’s a decision not to charge them”. Unless Barr makes substantial redactions that attempt to protect the image of President Trump, here is what we can expect to see in the report:
Obstruction Of Justice Evidence
President Trump’s endeavor to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been done in public view. In early 2017, President Trump requested loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the Russia investigation at the time. According to Comey’s contemporaneous memos, Trump then requested that he back off then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. As we all saw, President Trump subsequently fired Comey on May 9, 2017.
The very next day in the Oval Office, President Trump reportedly told Russian officials that the pressure from the probe had been taken off and a few days later admitted on NBC News that he fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation. President Trump then reportedly requested that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions un-recuse himself from the investigation and subsequently attacked him repeatedly for his recusal. President Trump also reportedly called then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in late 2018 asking him to see if he could insert a Trump ally to lead the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
President Trump sent out countless tweets over the past 22 months attacking the Russia investigation and displaying what legal experts argue is corrupt intent. And throughout all of this, President Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was responsible for the attack on US democracy, over the US intelligence community.
Judging by the reports from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, this will all likely be laid out in their report, and perhaps unknown evidence. For now, here’s our breakdown of some of the obstruction evidence.
Trump-Russia Collusion Evidence
What we know publicly about Trump and his associates’ contacts with Russians is already incredibly damning. We know then-candidate-Trump and his personal fixer Michael Cohen began pursuing a Trump Tower Moscow deal in 2015 that went on well into 2016 and included his mob-connected associate Felix Sater.
We know there were at least 14 Trump associates who had over 100 contacts or meetings with Russian nationals during the course of the campaign and transition. We know the Trump Campaign knew about Russia’s efforts to help them via Donald Trump Jr.’s emails, and he, Jared Kushner, and Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort held a meeting in Trump Tower seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives. We know Paul Manafort gave internal polling data to suspected Russian Intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik.
We know on July 13, 2016, President Trump publicly called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails and that same night Russia made its first attempt to hack Clinton’s office emails. We also know the Trump Campaign knowingly promoted Wikileaks dumps and sought out updates on future dumps from Roger Stone. We know after they won, soon-to-be National Security Adviser Michael Flynn spent his time on the Trump transition promising then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak sanctions relief.
All of that only touches the surface. This could all be laid out in robust detail in the report, but for now, you can read our full breakdown of the contacts here.
What Will Happen Next?
In the immediate aftermath of Barr’s summary, multiple polls indicated that the American people’s opinions of President Trump remained unchanged and there was still great suspicion about Trump’s potential criminal wrongdoing. After the report is released tomorrow, Republicans will likely stand in line behind President Trump as they always have, but recent polling shows his GOP support may be faltering. It’s unclear if the findings will shake public opinion, but they will surely spur congressional action.
House Democrats have already been geared into full oversight mode as they have requested Trump’s tax returns, subpoenaed Trump’s bank records, and launched new corruption investigations of their own. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has already had his committee approve a subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report. Nadler has also signaled that he would like Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify in a hearing. If it’s public, it will likely be one of the most watched public hearings in American history.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has already requested his committee be fully briefed on the counterintelligence findings of the Mueller report. Schiff has already made his opinion known on Trump’s contacts with Russia. Schiff said that although Mueller wasn’t able to find a criminal conspiracy, he believes the conduct is “unethical,” “unpatriotic,” “corrupt,” and evidence of collusion.
Whether there will be greater action taken depends entirely on what details are in the report. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has, for the moment, taken impeachment off the table. With President Trump’s recent efforts to violate immigration law, the numerous corruption investigations in New York, and potential bombshells in the Mueller report, we’ll see if that remains the case.
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