Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was released to the public Thursday and drew no conclusion that President Donald Trump committed a crime — but said he is not exonerated.
Mueller’s investigation, outlined in a 400-plus page document, found that Russia interfered in the election and found “numerous links” between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.
Despite that, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report said.
It's not clear whether Trump broke the law, the report said.
“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 ... however, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report said. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
- The report outlined several cases in which the president and others sought to protect Trump from the investigation. The probe found “multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations.”
- Among those were efforts to remove Mueller and to influence testimony of witnesses. “The president engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation,” the report said — though none apparently reached Mueller’s definition of prosecutable criminality.
- Trump’s efforts to end the probe weren’t successful “because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” For example, former FBI Director James Comey refused to end an investigation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; White House Counsel Don McGahn didn’t, as directed, tell the attorney general that Mueller should be removed; and other officials refused to deliver some of Trump’s messages dealing with the probe.
- Similarly, the lack of “collusion” between the campaign and the Russians doesn't appear to be for lack of trying. The report said Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos worked with “two Russian nationals” to arrange a meeting between the campaign and the Russian government, though no such meeting ever took place.
- Since some people refused to testify, some destroyed document and some lied to investigators — and were criminally charged for it — Mueller’s report said investigators couldn’t “rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light” on questions of obstruction or collusion.
Photo credit: Emily Elconin
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