The Mueller Report

The US Department of Justice has released the Mueller report, with fewer redactions than anticipated by most analysts. The report details a systematic campaign from Russia to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump. The US attorney general in an initial summary and a press conference suggests that he regards the US president as exonerated, an opinion embraced by Trump. The Mueller report does not agree: “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 judgment.” The report details explains why charges were not filed, though redacted sections reveal multiple ongoing investigations continue. Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials offer no firm assurances about preventing interference in future elections. This post will be updated throughout the day. – YaleGlobal

The Mueller Report

The US Department of Justice releases copies of the Mueller report, detailing Russian interference in US election
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Read the Mueller report.

CNN provides a searchable copy of the Mueller report.

Election interference, volume I, page 1

"The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion."

Charging decisions, volume I, page 9

"First, the Office determined that Russia’s two principal interference operations in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – the social media campaign and the hacking-and-dumping operations – violated U.S. criminal law….

"Second, while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal-finance violation….

"Third, the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied ot the Office, and to the Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference …." 

On Presidential power, volume II, page 174

"The President's removal powers are at their zenith with respect to principal officers - that is, officers who must be appointed by the President and who report to him directly.... The President retains broad latitude to supervise investigations and remove officials, circumscribed in this context only by the requirement that he not act for corrupt personal purposes."

On Congress, volume II, page 168-177:

"Although the President has broad authority under Authority II, that authority coexists with Congress's Article I power to enact laws that protect congressional proceedings, federal investigations, the courts, and grand juries against corrupt efforts to undermine their functions. Usually, those constitutional powers fuction in harmony, with the President enforcing the criminal laws under Article II to protect against corrupt obstructive acts. But when the President's  official actions come into conflict with the prohibitions in the obstruction statutes, any constitutional tension is reconciled through separation-of-powers analysis....

"Congress has Article I authority to define generally applicable criminal law and apply it to all persons - including the President. Congress clearly has authority to protect its own legislative functions against corrupt efforts designed to impede legitimate fact-gathering and  lawmaking efforts...

"The final step in the constitutional balancing process is to assess whether the separation-of powers doctrine permits Congress to take action within its constitutional authority notwithstanding the potential impact on Article II functions .... In the case of the obstruction-of-justice statutes, our assessment of the weighing of interests leads us to conclude that Congress has the authority to impose the limited restrictions contained in those statutes on the President's official conduct to protect the integrity of important functions of other branches of government."

On intent, volume II, page 178-179

"Direct or indirect action by the President to end a criminal investigation into his own or his family members' conduct to protect against personal embarrassment or legal liability would constitute a core example of corruptly motivated conduct. So would action to halt an enforcement proceeding that directly or adversely affected the president's financial interests for the purpose of protecting those interests. ...

"The president's role as head of goverment necessarily requires him to take into account special factors in making policy decisions that affect law-enforcement actions and proceedings. For instance, the President's decision to curtail a law-enforcement investigation to avoid international friction would not implicate the obstruction-of-justice statutes."

On obstruction, volume II, page 182:

"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 judgment."

Obstruction investigation , volume II, pages 3-6

The key issues and events:
The Campaign's response to reports about Russian support for Trump.
Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and 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.
Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation.
Efforts to have [White House Counsel Don] McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed.
Conduct towards [former National Security Advisor Mike] Flynn, [former campaign Chairman Paul  Manafort.
Conduct involving [Trump personal attorney] Michael Cohen.

 

President's behavior, volume II, pages 157-158

"a. Our investigation found multiple ways by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels ....

"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly successful, but that is because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests....

"b. In considering the full scope of the conduct we investigated, the President's actions can be divided into two distinct phases reflecting a possible shift in the President's motives. In the first phase, before the President fired [FBI Director James] Comey, the President had been assured that the FBI had not opened an investigation of him personally. The President deemed it critically important to make public that he was not under investigation, and he included that information in his termination letter to Comey after other efforts to have that information disclosed were unsuccessful.

"Soon after he fired Comey, however, the President became aware that investigators were coducting an obstruction-of-justice inquiry into his own conduct. That awareness marked a significant change in the President's conduct and the start of a second phase of action. The President launched public attacks on the investigation and individuals involved in it who could possess evidence adverse to the President, while in private, the President engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation. For instance, the President attempted to remove Special Counsel; he sought to have Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions unrecuse himself and limit the investigation; he sought to prevent public disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 meeting between Russians and campaign officials; and he used public forums to attack potential witnesses who might offer adverse information and to praise witnesses who declined to cooperate with the goverment. Judgments about the nature of the President's motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence."

Presidential immunity, volume II, page 8

"Under applicable Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice through the use of his Article II powers.... The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."

The President's written responses to Robert Mueller's questions, Appendix C

"I have no recollection...," "I do not remember...," "I do not recall...," "I vaguely remember...," "I have no current recollection...," "I do not remember the specifics..."

Mueller report:  "We viewed the written answers to be inadequate."

Special Counsel's Office Transferred, Referred, and Completed Cases, Appendix D

The report lists 11 transferred cases, two of which are redacted; 14 referred cases, 12 of which are redacted; and three completed cases.

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