90 Miles From Tyranny : Key Takeaways From the Mueller Report on Trump and Russia

Friday, April 19, 2019

Key Takeaways From the Mueller Report on Trump and Russia


The final report by special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but details in the 448-page document provide fodder for congressional Democrats who want more investigations.

The lightly redacted report released by the Justice Department states that President Donald Trump feared appointment of a special counsel would mean the “end” of his presidency.

But it does not say conclusively that the president tried to obstruct the probe, and Attorney General William Barr determined that the evidence did not support criminal charges.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Thursday that Barr will testify May 2, and that Mueller himself will testify shortly after that.

Nadler said congressional investigations will continue.

Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said the administration would like to see a thorough accounting of how the investigation commenced, apparently based entirely on the “dossier” compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, as opposition research targeting Trump as a presidential candidate.

“Investigating the investigators is something some of the investigators think would be a good idea,” Conway told The Daily Signal, but declined to say whether she thought criminal offenses occurred.

“If you’re going to scream about transparency and accountability and investigations for two years, than I’ve got 22 months to wait to see how we got here in the first place,” she said.

“When the president says it should never happen to another president again, let’s see how we got here. How did it start?”

Outstanding Questions on Obstruction

Muller presented a pattern of behavior by Trump and his associates that seemed hostile toward the Russia investigation, which the president routinely called a “witch hunt.”

But, as Barr already had announced last month, the special counsel didn’t make a determination that the actions constituted obstruction of justice.

“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the president’s conduct,” the Mueller report states, adding:
The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, 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, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

The report also says, “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.”

>>> Read the Mueller Report

In most instances, the Mueller report noted, Trump aides declined to take actions to impede the investigation—including firing the special counsel, as then-White House counsel Don McGahn thought he was told to do.

The report refers to the month after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was overseeing the Russia probe:
On June 14, 2017, the media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating whether the President had obstructed justice. Press reports called this ‘a major turning point’ in the investigation: while Corney had told the President he was not under investigation, following Corney’s firing, the President now was under investigation. The President reacted to this news with a series of tweets criticizing the...



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