The release of Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday shed long-awaited light on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Here’s a quick glance at what we’ve learned from the report.
“Sweeping and systemic fashion” that “favored” Trump: The investigation found that the Russian government “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and that the effort “favored” Donald Trump’s candidacy. The investigation also “identified numerous links between the Russian government and and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.” The campaign, the report said, “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts” but the investigation did “not establish” members of the campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russians.
Trump Tower meeting: The report specifically cited the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump tower between a Russian lawyer and senior Trump campaign officials Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort to deliver what had been described as “official documents and information that would incriminate" Hillary Clinton. “The written communications setting up the meeting showed that the Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects, but the Russian lawyer’s presentation did not provide such information,” the report said. The investigation also found that Trump actively sought to prevent subordinates from providing the public accurate information about the June 2016 meeting.
No Trump campaign conspiracy: The report said investigators relied on the standard of conspiracy law in deciding if the actions of multiple individual amounted to a crime, not the concept of collusion, because collusion is not a specific offense or defined in federal criminal law.
“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.”
» FULL DOCUMENT: Read the redacted version of Mueller’s report
No conclusion on obstruction: The report said investigators struggled with both the legal implications of investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, and the motives behind some of his actions, including seeking the ouster of former officials to order a memo that would clear his name. “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,” the report stated. “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.”
The report said that while Justice Department guidelines bar a criminal prosecution of a sitting president, it does allow a criminal investigation of a president and that a president does not have immunity after leaving office.
Issues determining intent: The report said investigators had problems with establishing the intent behind some of the president’s actions. “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,” the report said.
11 areas of potential obstruction: The report listed 11 areas of possible obstruction that Mueller’s team looked into. They were:
- The campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump
- Conduct involving FBI Director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
- The President’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation
- The President’s termination of Comey
- The appointment of a special counsel and efforts to remove him
- Efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation
- Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence about the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting
- Further efforts to have the attorney general take control of the investigation
- Efforts to have White House counsel Donald McGahn deny that the president had ordered him to have the special counsel removed
- Contacts with Flynn and Manafort after they became defendants in the criminal investigation (a third name is blacked out because of an ongoing investigation)
- Conduct involving Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen
The redacted parts of the report appear mostly related to ongoing investigations. Other redactions covered grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, and infringements on the privacy rights of peripheral third parties. Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier the redactions were made by a team of Justice Department and special counsel lawyers and no one else. No redactions were the result of the invocation of executive privilege by the president.
The Los Angeles Times, saying one third of the report’s pages had some sort of redaction, created a visual showing the entire report.