The Mueller Report
I just finished all 400+ pages of the redacted version. There are two very different volumes. https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=5955997-Muellerreport
The first discusses the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and the interfaces with the Trump campaign.
The Russians tried to defeat Hillary Clinton and supported both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as their preferred alternatives. They spread disinformation broadly on both the left and right to discourage voters from supporting Candidate Clinton. They stole campaign information and used Wikileaks and their own disguised Internet platforms to share the stolen information. They used social media extensively and even organized campaign rallies to sow intense dissension and to support their two favored candidates. They broke into state and county election systems electronically. The Internet companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google that they used either did not discern their activities or simply didn’t care. The federal intelligence agencies picked up on this interference and notified the appropriate authorities (the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders) who failed to act in a timely fashion, paralyzed in part by their fears of appearing to take a partisan action during the active election season.
How did this happen? Businessman Trump was trying to secure a Trump Tower Moscow deal worth at least $1 billion to the Trump Organization. His business team was trying to secure President Putin’s approval. Candidate Trump was saying nice things about Russia and President Putin (who were otherwise on the outs with the EU, NATO and the US for invading Crimea and supporting and arming a separatist movement and rebellion in the Ukraine). President Putin in turn began saying nice things about Candidate Trump. He also ordered his intelligence apparatus to do whatever was possible to defeat or damage Secretary Clinton who he believed had interfered in the Russian elections of 2011 to his detriment.
The Russians were trying to defeat Clinton. So too was then Candidate Trump. Wikileaks (whose leader was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy to escape prosecution for rape) also had a long running hatred for Secretary Clinton and was trying to defeat her as well. They were operating on three parallel tracks with a substantial number of interfaces and intersections between them, including Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s long standing, loyal and informal political adviser Roger Stone who themselves had been long time political associates dating back to the early 80’s.
The factual and legal question for Mr. Mueller was whether there was an active criminal conspiracy between the Trump Team and the Russians to defeat Candidate Clinton by illicit means. Based on the evidence Mueller’s team was able to discover, they charged the Russians on a number of counts of interfering in the American election. They charged and convicted several Trump campaign operatives with lying to federal investigators about their ties to Russia. They charged and convicted Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort at two separate trials. Roger Stone, who appears to have been the conduit with Wikileaks about the stolen e-mails This awaiting trial.
The Report, volume 1 concludes that they could not prove a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians and thus would not charge the campaign or its principal actors criminally. It is worth careful reading, as it is hardly the ringing exoneration, as extolled by Attorney General Barr and President Trump. For example, they decided that they could not charge Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner for their meetings with the Russians because the information (Clinton dirt was promised) they received from the Russians was worthless and because Trump Jr. and Kushner were not sufficiently familiar with the constraints of federal election law to meet the legal requirements of “intent or scienter” necessary to show a violation of the law. In other instances, they concluded that Manafort was lying to them; his communications were encrypted, and they could not get to the truth about the Trump’s campaign polling data that he was sharing with a Russian intelligence operative and a Russian oligarch. They believed that Manafort was acting to advance his own interests and not acting on behalf of the Trump campaign. The Stone information is redacted because he is facing trial so we cannot learn much information at all about the roles he played. President Trump and his campaign were actively soliciting the Russians, Wikileaks and others to lay hands on and publish the missing Clinton emails; virtually all information about this is redacted.
The Report, volume 2 concludes that there were multiple and sustained efforts by the President and those acting on his behalf to interfere first with the FBI investigations and then with the Special Counsel’s investigations. The President was monomaniacally persistent in his efforts, but many did not come to fruition because his staff failed to execute his directives. The question is why was he so intent if he had nothing to hide – i.e. if you’re so innocent, why don't you act like it? The Trump staff interviewed by the Special Counsel believed his initial motivations were driven because the FBI’s investigation of the Russian interference undercut the validity of his election and his ability to govern and to make the deals he wanted to with President Putin. After the firing of FBI Director Comey and the appointment of Mr. Mueller as Special Counsel, President Trump was in self-preservation mode to save himself from impeachment, disgrace and potential criminal prosecution. Special Counsel Mueller did not charge the President because of a longstanding Department policy against indicting a sitting President. I specially commend to you reading the President’s comments before, during and after the Manafort trial; this appears to be outright and flagrant obstruction of an important court proceeding. The President’s efforts to persuade Attorney General Sessions to unrecuse himself, to fire Special Counsel Mueller, to fire FBI Director Mueller, to intimidate Michael Cohen from testifying truthfully in order to protect himself are the very essence of political corruption, and the efforts during his plane flight over the Atlantic to disguise his son’s Trump Tower meeting as a discussion of adoption policies with the Russians could be the stuff of a great comic opera or a Saturday Night Live skit, but for the truly serious issues involved in trying to use Russian dirt to win an American election.
The facts in the Report are fully documented. This is not the case of a single isolated incident of wrongdoing, but a string of Presidential behaviors seeking to subvert judicial and legislative proceedings and necessary truth finding. It is the very essence of what the Constitution prohibits from its chief executive. As such it may well rise to an impeachable offense and warrants a full and one would hope bi-partisan legislative investigation in Congress. Personally, I would far prefer that President Trump be removed by an overwhelming electoral rejection in 2020 rather than through a divisive, consuming and distracting impeachment process. I think Congress, the federal prosecutors and the courts should investigate now and hold off on even considering impeachment until all the facts are truly in from the myriad judicial proceedings and oversight investigations involving the President and his acolytes. For example, no one has yet seen his finances to ascertain the levels of financial corruption if any. There is no reason to rush to early and premature judgments. Special Counsel Mueller and his team have done an extraordinary job within the limits of his mandate and in spite of extreme Presidential pressure to derail them, let’s read, understand and fully appreciate their findings and build on them.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin