After 22 months of investigation, the Mueller Report was finally released to the public. Getting through it, though, isn’t exactly an easy task. The full report is 448 pages long, and filled with black streaks of redacted information that we may never get to see.
Still, as journalists in the KSL Newsroom and around the world dive into this behemoth of a report, there are a few highlights we can read that shed a fascinating light into the presidential investigation that’s already made history.
1. Trump called Mueller’s appointment “the end of his presidency”
When Trump learned of special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment, according to the report, he cursed out loud and told Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency.”
Trump’s frustration wasn’t exactly an admission of guilt, however; instead, the president appears to simply have been frustrated that he was being investigated at all. According to the report, he told Sessions: “Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
2. Trump asked his staff to find Clinton’s e-mails
Before Wikileaks leaked Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, Trump allegedly asked his campaign members to get ahold of them. According to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s statement in the report, Trump repeatedly asked his staff to “find the deleted Clinton e-mails.” Flynn claims that he personally contacted multiple people in an effort to get ahold of them.
The report does not appear to conclude, however, that the Trump campaign was Wikileaks’ source for the e-mails.
3. Trump obscured the purpose of his son’s Russian meeting
According to the report, Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin on June 2016 on the promise that they would be given information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The president, according to report, deliberately obscured the purpose of the meeting, later directing White House adviser Hope Hicks say to tell the press that the meeting was “about Russian adoption.”
Trump Jr., the report alleges, ordered Hicks to change that statement to say that it was “primarily” about adoption, telling her through a text message: “If I don’t have it in there it appears as though I’m lying later when they inevitably leak something.”
4. Mueller believes that Julian Assange obscured his source
Mueller appears to believe that Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange actively spread misinformation to obscure the source of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s leaked e-mails.
The report discusses statements from Assange that appear to imply that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the source of the e-mails. Assange, during an interview with Fox News, stated: “We’re not saying that Seth Rich’s death necessarily is connected to our publications… But if there is any question about a source of WikiLeaks being threatened, then people can be assured that this organization will go after anyone who may have been involved in some kind of attempt to coerce or possibly, in this kill a potential source.”
This statement, Mueller writes in his report, was a “apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials.” The unredacted portions of the report do not, however, clarify his evidence.
5. Wikileaks asked Donald Trump Jr. to promote the leaked e-mail
Donald Trump Jr. received a direct message from Wikileaks on Oct. 3, 2016, asking the Trump campaign “to help disseminate a link alleging candidate Clinton had advocated using a drone to target Julian Assange.” Trump Jr. agreed, replying that he’d already gone ahead and shared it.
Shortly after, on Oct. 12, Wikileaks again message Trump Jr. saying: “Great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us wlsearch.tk.” The link, Wikileaks said, would help them with “digging through” John Podesta’s leaked e-mails.
6. Mueller did not believe he had enough evidence to prosecute Donald Trump Jr.
Though Trump Jr.’s name repeatedly appears in the Mueller document, Mueller states he did not believe that they had enough evidence against him to press charges. Mueller wrote that, given difficulties proving a “culpable mental state in campaign-finance prosecution”, any case against Trump Jr. would have a difficult time proving that he had willfully violated the law.
7. Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller
In June 2017, according to the report, President Trump attempted to direct Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Robert Mueller. It claims that he asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to pass on a message telling Sessions that Mueller “must be removed” because of his “conflicts of interest.”
McGahn, however, refused to pass on the message, telling Trump that he would rather resign than initiate a “Saturday Night Massacre,” referring to the fallout from President’s Nixon’s attempt to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Scandal.
8. Trump asked Sessions to discredit the investigation
On June 19, 2017, the report claims, Trump asked Sessions to publicly decry the investigation against him. According to the report, Sessions was told to say that “the investigation was ‘very unfair’ to the President, the President had done nothing wrong, and Sessions planned to meet with the Special Counsel.”
Sessions, apparently, did not receive the message. Trump sent it through his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski, however, was uncomfortable delivering it and did not follow through.
9. The report found no evidence of collusion
The report examines whether the Trump campaign coordinated the Russians, which it defines as “an agreement – tacit or express – between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” While the Mueller Report claims that members of the trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russian attempts to interfere with the election, it did not find evidence that the President had taken criminal steps to help.
There is no evidence, the report concludes, that “the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.” Instead, it states that the evidence points to “possible personal motives” behind Trump’s conduct during the investigation; namely, a concern that it would call into question the legitimacy of his election.
10. The report did not exonerate the President
Mueller stops short, however, of exonerating the President.
“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,” the report says. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Trump’s public statements during the investigation, the report argues, could be viewed as an attempt to obstruct justice. It also notes Trump’s alleged deliberate attempts to obscure the purpose of his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 as a possible example of obstruction. The report, however, ultimately concludes that obstruction would require an attempt to withhold information from investigators or the special counsel’s office, and so no charges were filed.
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