USA: Mueller report: No Proof of Russia-Trump Collusion – 2016 Elections

Mueller report: No Obstruction of Justice by Trump proven

Robert Mueller

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s election team and Russia in the 2016 election, Attorney General William Barr said today. Barr said he had determined that Trump did not obstruct justice during the investigation.

In a major political victory for Trump, Mueller, who spent nearly two years investigating allegations that Russia meddled in the election to help Trump defeat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, did not find evidence that Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” according a summary of Mueller’s findings. 

While Mueller left open the possibility that Trump had obstructed justice in his response to the Russia probe, U.S. Attorney General William Barr concluded that the evidence was “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense,” the summary said.

“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr quoted Mueller as writing in his report on the issue of possible obstruction of justice.

Mueller said he would leave it to the attorney general to decide whether a crime was committed.

Barr’s summary said Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, despite multiple offers from individuals associated with Russia.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the findings on the Russia probe were a “total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said it “seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress’ court.”

The release of the summary is likely to ignite a new political fight in Washington as Democrats push for Barr to release the full report, and Trump seizes on the findings as vindication of his near daily assertion that he was a victim of a “witch hunt” that has cast a long shadow over his presidency.

Trump has always denied collaborating with Moscow or obstructing justice. Russia says it did not interfere in the election, although U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that it did.

Barr said the investigation also found insufficient evidence that Trump had attempted to obstruct justice. Many of his opponents accused him of obstructing the Russia probe when he fired former FBI director James Comey. The Department of Justice announced on Friday that Mueller had ended his investigation after bringing charges against 34 people, including Russian agents and former key allies of Trump, such as his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Mike Flynn and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

None of those charges, however, directly related to whether Trump’s campaign worked with Moscow.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On March 25, 2019 at 1:18 am

    How not to think – and what the Mueller Report won’t tell us – about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation

    Marty Lederman | Just Security

    Back in December, I wrote a post about Bill Barr’s June 2018 memo to DOJ officials. In it, I was sharply critical of Barr’s understanding of the President’s constitutional prerogatives and his relationship to criminal investigations. I did, however, agree with one discrete aspect of Barr’s memo – namely, his view that, as a matter of policy, “it’d be deeply unfortunate and unwise for DOJ to begin a practice of investigating whether a ‘facially legitimate’ exercise of the President’s Article II authorities was in fact motivated by illegitimate — i.e., self-interested — considerations, and whether such unconstitutional considerations were a ‘but for’ cause of the President’s actions” – the questions a prosecutor would ask, in other words, if he or she were considering whether to indict President Trump for “obstruction of justice” with respect to his treatment of FBI Director Jim Comey and similar public acts.

    “I’m very sympathetic to that version of Barr’s argument,” I wrote, “and, more importantly, I suspect Bob Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are, too! Which is precisely why I think that, despite breathless press leaks to the contrary (probably emanating from defense counsel), it’s highly unlikely Mueller has in mind to ask the grand jury to decide whether Trump’s motives for his treatment of Comey were ‘corrupt’ or not.

    That might be a proper subject for congressional consideration in the context of an impeachment proceeding, and for consideration by the electorate at the ballot box.

    But I strongly doubt Mueller and Rosenstein (let alone Matthew Whitaker or the incoming AG) would conclude that it’s a question a criminal jury should determine, except perhaps in extreme circumstances.”

    I’m not bringing this up now in order to say “I told you so” – because, in truth, I don’t think it reflected any great insight on my part. Indeed, the point I was trying to stress was that this was a judgment that virtually any supervisory DOJ prosecutor would make. And today, we see that I was right: According to Barr’s letter, Mueller “ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump violated criminal obstruction statutes.

    I’ll make another, related prediction now: When we see the whole Mueller report to Barr – or at least those parts of it that aren’t redacted – we won’t learn much that’s very new or revelatory about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia probe.

    To be sure, the report might describe some efforts by Trump to interfere that we don’t yet know. As Barr made a point of noting today, however, most of Trump’s actions relevant to the question of obstruction “have been the subject of public reporting” and many of them “took place in public view”.

    That’s why you’re already familiar with many of those acts: Trump pressured Comey to back off on Michael Flynn. He fired Comey in order to take off the “great pressure” he faced “because of Russia” (as he said in his contemporaneous boasts to Russian officials!). He constantly disparaged, and called into question the impartiality of, Mueller and his team of lawyers. He insulted countless career and Trump-appointed DOJ and FBI officials of extraordinary integrity.

    He said he wouldn’t have appointed Jeff Sessions if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, tried to get Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse, and humiliated Sessions when he wouldn’t budge. Eventually he fired Sessions and then displaced Rod Rosenstein as Acting Attorney General with a lackey, deviating from centuries of practice. He persistently referred to the critically important Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.” And on and on.

    These things have become so regular, so commonplace, that we’ve come to take them for granted.

    Make no mistake, however: They are not things any other president would ever do. Any other president would – of course – do everything in his power to support, praise and cooperate with his own officials as they were engaged in an investigation of one of the most serious foreign threats to the nation in recent years.

    And any other president would abide by the decades-long norms prohibiting presidential interference with, and commenting, on, DOJ investigations – especially when DOJ is investigating the president himself and people in his orbit.

    Trump’s behavior with respect to the investigation has been deeply deviant, and inexcusable.

    Moreover, it has been – quite obviously – part of a concerted, multiyear effort to obstruct, and undermine the legitimacy of, the Russia investigation. No serious person would dispute that. And most of it has been out there in plain view already – which is why the Mueller report to Barr is unlikely to contain any great surprises or revelations.

    In his letter today, Barr writes that he and Rosenstein have concluded there isn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump’s conduct met all the elements of an obstruction offense. I’m somewhat dubious of that, but they’ve read the full report and I haven’t.

    Any confident assessment will have to await public disclosure of all the facts Mueller uncovered. The important point in this respect, though, is that it doesn’t matter:

    Even though Trump has manifestly done a great deal to try to obstruct the Russia investigation, and even if a jury, after Trump’s term in office, might possibly find beyond a reasonable doubt that his conduct satisfied all the elements of an obstruction offense, those facts would not mean that Trump should be indicted for obstruction of justice based upon his very public acts as President – a precedent that neither Mueller nor any other DOJ prosecutor would or should be eager to set.

    Nevertheless, the fact that Trump took all of these outrageous steps to undermine this most important of investigations remains of great significance because of what might lie behind his course of conduct.

    What we don’t yet know – and what we’re unlikely to learn from the Mueller report to Barr – is why Trump has tried to obstruct and undermine the investigation.

    Was it merely because he feared the reputational and political harm he would suffer as so many close to him were indicted and their misdeeds exposed? Or did he have something more to hide – and, if so, what?

    More broadly, and as I asked here and in the Washington Post recently, why has Trump fallen so far short in performing his constitutional duties on behalf of the nation when it comes to matters involving Russia?

    In addition to his efforts to hamstring the Russia investigation, what explains his sycophancy to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and elsewhere, and Trump’s apparent willingness to believe whatever the Russian leader tells him, even when it contradicts the uniform assessments of his own intelligence agencies?

    His reluctance to criticize Putin’s regime, even for its assassinations abroad? His repeated efforts to distance himself from U.S. efforts to countermand Russia? His instructions to Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower discussions? His manifest disinterest in addressing the continuing threat to our electoral system?

    Does Trump have financial obligations to Russian interests? Was he — and does he continue to be — motivated by the prospects of a Moscow Trump Tower?

    Does Russian intelligence have kompromat on Trump that makes him susceptible to undue influence? Or is there a more benign explanation?

    These are among the questions Mueller presumably has examined as part of the counterintelligence investigation that was his primary charge. And as I wrote in the Post, “The counterintelligence investigation’s answers to these and similar questions — especially its possible assessment of the president’s capacity to address the foreign threat — are of far greater current importance to the functioning of our government than determining whether Trump’s deeply inappropriate conduct in 2016-2017 violated any particular criminal statutes.”

    That’s why it was always a mistake for so many to be focused on whether Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation (duh, of course he did – he even boasts about it) and on whether he’d be indicted for doing so (something that was never a realistic possibility).

    The much more important questions involve his motives and whether they compromise his current, and future, ability to perform his constitutional duties and functions.

    Which is why our attention should now turn to Richard Burr, Adam Schiff, and the congressional intelligence committees. What has Mueller told them? What more will the committees discover about Trump’s relationship(s), if any, with Russia or Russian interests?

    And can the answers to those questions be shared with the rest of Congress and the public, consistent with national security imperatives? Those questions – rather than what Mueller or Barr might have concluded about whether Trump violated obstruction statutes – ought to be where we now turn our attention.

  • wally n  On March 25, 2019 at 10:50 am

    Give it a rest. The US congress [democrats] found a way to spend eight years and probably more, doing nothing but collecting full salary and full perks.
    I can’t think of a President/Prime Minister that worked so hard for his country, and suffered so much abuse.
    Everyone hates America, but wants to get in????

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