Mueller Report: No Conspiracy or Coordination Between Trump Campaign and Russian Government

The principal findings of the Mueller report are now public. They're good news for the President on Russia and a mixed bag on obstruction.

The Attorney General has released a four-page summary of the “critical findings” of the Mueller investigation. The full text of the letter is available in PDF form.

The key finding is rather stunning:

The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.

The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.

Trump and company are not fully off the hook, however:

Obstruction of Justice. The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President — most of which have been the subject of public reporting — that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel’s office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel’s obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.[1]

In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-ofjustice offense.

[1] See A Sitting President ‘s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222 (2000).

As to the matter of release of the full report, the AG takes a reasonable tack:

As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.

Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to “matter[s] occurring before [a] grand jury.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B). Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C.

401 (3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.

Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.

All emphases mine.

I’ll have more thoughts on this, I’m sure, as I absorb analysis from people with more legal training. Based on my quick reading of the memo, however, I’m confident that Mueller and his team did their job and I have no reason to think Barr and his team aren’t doing theirs.

Much like the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email, the outcome here will satisfy almost no one. Mueller, correctly, was charged with investigating whether Trump and his campaign committed criminal offenses. Many people close to the President were indeed charged with and some pled guilty to crimes. But, even moreso than with a Secretary of State, no temperate official is going to argue they should be charged with a crime absent overwhelming proof. I’m satisfied that, given nearly two years and the resources of a crack team of the best investigators in the country, that proof doesn’t exist.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Russia Investigation
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    I don’t trust Barr’s summary. He says that there was no coordination by any Trump campaign official, when we know that Manafort was briefing Oleg Oligarchov (I’m not looking up his name).

    I want to see how Mueller interprets that, and what evidence is there.

    This is just the first thing that leaps out at me, and it makes me question Barr’s interpretation of Mueller’s findings.

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  2. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins are in celebratory mode: Their savior has been exonerated. So they claim.

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  3. Mikey says:

    So, are apologies from the Trumpist fools for sliming America’s top law enforcement agencies and some dedicated FBI agents forthcoming?

    I even saw some Trumpists call Mueller “Dirty Cop.” Are they now going to say they were wrong about that?

    Hahahahahaha…who am I kidding. They’ll never admit they said it at all. I predict it will take about 0.000000000000000001 seconds for them to universally praise Mueller as the most upstanding, fair-minded, skilled, and objective investigator in the entire history of mankind, and probably of some alien worlds as well. “We have ALWAYS loved Bob Mueller!”

    There’s a lot more still to come, of course. Mueller didn’t put all the eggs in one basket and neither should we.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher: I trust Barr, actually. First, I think he values his legal reputation more than he covets Trump’s affections. Second, it would be a short-lived win in that the full report will get out soon. And, while I admit to not followings the ins and outs of Manafort and company that closely, I gather the collusion business remains unresolved but was definitely not charged.

  5. Mikey says:

    It also strikes me that “while this report does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” is pretty close to what Comey said about Hillary’s e-mails, a matter concerning which Trumpist idiots still drool “LOCK HER UP!!!”

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  6. KM says:

    No, Barr’s summary stated that. No one has seen the actual report.

    Based on my quick reading of the memo, however, I’m confident that Mueller and his team did their job and I have no reason to think Barr and his team aren’t doing theirs.

    I’m going to be brutally honest here: does any trust a word out of Barr’s mouth at this point? Considering some of the memo-hi-jinks the GOP have engaged in that last two years, why would anyone trust this summary to not be biased if not flat-out deceptive? Barr’s in a bad spot – he’s got to do his job and not piss Trump off. So of course he’s going to polish that turd as best he can. The only thing I’m unsure of is is he going for some spin or just trying for the role of Nunes Deux?

    Release the report and let us decide. After all, if it’s not so bad for Trump then what’s the problem? If it’s showing him

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    I’m going to be brutally honest here: does any trust a word out of Barr’s mouth at this point?

    Aside from the fact that he accepted a position in the Trump cabinet, I have no reason to doubt his integrity.

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  8. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: I have relatively little doubt that what he said was technically true.

    He says that “As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts” — there’s a lot of room for weaseling in there.

    “Did not find” can range from “found nothing to suggest” to “was not able to reach a standard of beyond a reasonable doubt required to bring prosecution”.

    Likewise “knowingly” becomes nigh impossible to prove. Did Manafort know he was providing information to Oleg The Oligarch to allow the Russians to better influence the election, or did he just think that Oleg has a fondness for presentations? Did the Republican Party plank on Ukraine change because of a quid pro quo, or just because Trump surrounded himself with pro Russian advocates? Who knows what lies in the heart of man?

    My general approach with understanding the thoroughness and accuracy of nearly every document is to find something I know about that it covers, and then see how that document covers it. From that one little snippet, I come to the conclusion that this summary is either very tilted, or just plain lying.

    I’ll give Barr the benefit of the doubt and say it’s just tilted.

    And I would hypothesize that Barr is as concerned with his reputation of protecting the President as he is with his legal reputation. This is the man who is behind George HW Bush’s Christmas Pardons for everyone involved in Iran-Contra, after all.

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  9. Kathy says:

    Not to toot my own horn ¿much?, but I considered this as a probable outcome.

    Dennison seemed angry that anyone would think he did not win on his own without any help. Of course, he din’t win and he had help from the Russians. So he tried to core it up, even if he wasn’t guilty of any crime. As with Nixon, it wasn’t the crime but the cover-up.

    And a word to the deplorables: this does not exonerate your Cheeto of all crimes he’s being investigated for.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Second, it would be a short-lived win in that the full report will get out soon.

    Dominate the early news cycles, and then when questions later arise, claim that it has already been covered and move on to the next scandal.

    If necessary, insult a dead Senator or make a comment about a woman bleeding out of her whatever to change focus.

    This has been the modus operandi of the Trump Administration since before there was a Trump Administration.

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  11. Guarneri says:

    Actually, Mueller did a poor job. If there were findings to indict, then indict. If not, STFU. That’s fundamental. He did a on one hand and on the other hand. That’s called CYA, and no balxxs.

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  12. Guarneri says:

    I hope the commenters here have been hitting the gym, and do a tag team. Because I hear those goal posts they are moving are awfully heavy.

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  13. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I would honestly not be surprised if that scenario is the case. And, I would equally not be surprised if the Russians are making sure incriminating looking evidence is revealed in a steady drip to undermine their “friend” Donald Trump.

    All good reasons not to elect someone who is palling around with Russian lowlifes, and who leaves himself open to this type of attack.

    But, the Manafort briefings are hard to explain. I want to see the full explanation.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @Guarneri:

    Mueller did a poor job. If there were findings to indict, then indict. If not, STFU. That’s fundamental. He did a on one hand and on the other hand.

    He indicted numerous people and handed off several other cases for separate investigation. He lacked the authority to recommend the indictment of the President but, in any event, decided it was not warranted WRT Russia. WRT obstruction, he laid out a narrative (that we have yet to see) for the AG—his boss—as to what Trump and company did and said that it was up to the AG to render a judgment.

  15. KM says:

    @James:

    Aside from the fact that he accepted a position in the Trump cabinet, I have no reason to doubt his integrity.

    To be fair, that fact alone is high evidence his integrity is statistically more up for grabs then most. He’d have to be a rare beast indeed and I don’t know about you but I stopped believing in unicorns a long time ago.

    Other then the benefit of the doubt, what has he done to positively affirm to you, me and the American public he’s *not* up for grabs like the rest of them? Mueller, despite being old-school Republican, has run a tight ship and shown over the last few years he’s worthy of the respect of his position. Meanwhile, damn near every one of Trump’s chosen has been visibly dirty in some way and willing to up-end our norms and institutions to protect their boss. Every. One. I can’t even think of a clean, trusty-worthy GOP critter associated with Trump off the top of my head and that’s bad – con artists usually have shill that tries to be on the up-and-up.

    Perhaps I’m unfairly tarring him but the old adage is true: lay down with dogs, get fleas. Barr’s down with some particularity filthy dogs in one hell of a mud puddle right now. The value of his word and un-biased nature of his judgement is…. not as firm as it could be, at the very least.

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  16. CSK says:

    Trump just Tweeted: “No Collusion, No Obstruction. Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

  17. SenyorDave says:

    From a commentator on Balloon Juice:

    “The President did things which were pretty clearly obstruction but since SCO didn’t find that he directly and illegally conspired, we’re going to say he couldn’t possibly have obstructed” is pretty weak tea”.

    Sounds like what Barr is saying. Nadler says he will call barr to testify, that seems like a good idea. If he is going to interpret Mueller, he should have to at least elaborate on the obstruction part. Didn’t Trump pretty much admit that he got rid of Comey when he said this in an interview with Lester Holt:

    And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

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  18. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “WRT obstruction, he laid out a narrative (that we have yet to see) for the AG—his boss—as to what Trump and company did and said that it was up to the AG to render a judgment.”

    That would be the AG who earlier this year claimed that it was impossible for a president to commit obstruction?

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  19. Mikey says:

    @CSK: The actual report: The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    Trump: “Complete and Total EXONERATION.”

    So, he lied. Again.

    In other news, it’s Sunday.

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    Barr heads a department with a policy that the President cannot be indicted.
    Barr went to some trouble to volunteer a legal opinion that the President cannot commit obstruction.
    Surprise, he’s not indicting the President.
    And, Barr’s going to release as much publicly as the law allows. As determined by Barr.
    I trust, James, you will understand that we may not all share your confidence in Barr.

    Between “does not conclude that the President committed a crime” and “does not exonerate him.” there’s a rather large gray area that we need to understand. The point to this investigation was not to remove Trump, but to understand what happened and prevent it in future. At this point I see no progress toward that goal. The report must be released. In full, as allowed by the special prosecutor statute where the public interest is involved.

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  21. Peter says:

    Keep moving the goal posts

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  22. Mikey says:

    The way to judge if the report actually exonerates Trump is how long the full release takes, and how hard the White House fights it.

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  23. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    I know; I read the letter, and given that it was four single-spaced pages long, I can assure you Trump did not read it. His fan club has told him that he’s totally exonerated, and that’s all he needs to know.

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  24. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08:

    The report must be released. In full, as allowed by the special prosecutor statute where the public interest is involved.

    As noted in a post earlier today, I think there will have to be some redactions to protect the privacy of some lower-level people not found to have committed indictable offenses. But I’d be shocked if we don’t see something close to a full report within a week or so.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: The Trump summary of the Barr summary of the Mueller Report leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accuracy.

    It’s hard to go from “does not exonerate” to “complete and total EXONERATION”, and yet he manages to do so.

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  26. Hal_10000 says:

    So are we going to get any change in the preferred narrative that Trump was clearly a traitor, compromised and a Russian asset? Because I spent the last two years trying to warn everyone about getting ahead of themselves on this. And now that narrative has tripped over its own feet.

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  27. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: It’s a given that the man (sic) lies about everything. But in this case, the Trumpkins got out there ahead of him with the same lie.

  28. Raoul says:

    JJ: I think if you read emtywheel you will find your trust on Barr misplaced. Reading the reports one wonders if the obstruction worked because it is apparent that there was a lot of obstruction. Nor sure why but Barr’s blurb reads like Gore vs Bush in that his opinion is only applicable in this one situation: in other words, Republicans covering up Republicans, again.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: I’m disinclined to worry too much about the privacy of lower-level people.

    I have no objection to referring to them as “individual 34” and what not, with the expectation that it will seldom be as transparent as “Individual 1, a major party Presidential nominee for whom Mr. Cohen was working”, but at the same time, many of them may be called to testify in front of congress so (insert shrug emoji here).

    There may be information that cannot be released without compromising sources and methods of intelligence. That worries me more than exposing the sordid life of a minor official.

    The American people need to have as full accounting of this as possible to restore faith in their government. Republicans need to know that that wasn’t a witch hunt, and Democrats need to know why another 34 people weren’t charged. Holding back information makes that difficult.

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  30. Modulo Myself says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Pretty much. But most of the real crazy stuff stopped long before the midterms. Pelosi saw this coming, by taking impeachment of the table. The saga of Michael Reynolds having egg on his face in the OTB comments section might be riveting to Guarneri, who only wants Reynolds’ love and respect, but its appeal is limited. It’s like free speech on campus or the media’s role in all of this–it’s of interest to the devoted online conservatives. What the investigation revealed is that Trump is a dumb and amoral crook, and they will continue to investigate that. Unlike Benghazi, they got him.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So are we going to get any change in the preferred narrative that Trump was clearly a traitor, compromised and a Russian asset?

    We do not know that he isn’t a traitor, merely that there is not evidence of treason that rises to the level where Mueller would indict.

    “Compromised” does not mean “committed criminal acts” — the likelihood of compromise remains. I do not know whether Mueller even investigated compromise, or whether the report addresses it.

    And “Russian Asset” is a very particular term of art — one does not need to even be a knowing asset, and many things do not map neatly onto crimes.

    You’re reading a lot more into the Barr summary than is there. The Barr summary is “no additional people should be indicted, and the evidence for any crimes in collusion does not rise to the level of beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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  32. Hal_10000 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Sure, the report doesn’t cover every eventuality. But it’s very thorough. I’m not a big fan of Taibi and I think he goes a bit too far in this piece. But his main point: that the quality of reporting and debate on thi entire thing was awful, is well-taken.

    Let’s also remember that a lot of this Russia stuff started on election night. I believe it was in Shattered where the Clinton team decide to blame the loss on Russia. That’s what elevated this from “a hacker with possible ties to Russia published Clinton’s risotto recipes” to a slick coup operation run out of the Kremlin. It’s yet one more way the Clinton campaign failed us.

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  33. Hal_10000 says:

    My biggest beef right now is that we have a good deal of evidence that Trump has broken the law — with the Stormy Daniels thing, with some of his financial stuff, etc. The Russia thing sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Now that the Russia thing hasn’t ended in impeachment, it’s going to be far easier for him to dismiss those very real scandals.

  34. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: Immediate snarky response: I’ll back off that when Trumpist fools stop chanting “LOCK HER UP” about Hillary’s e-mails.

    Serious response: it’s too early to say at this point. We haven’t seen the full Mueller report. We await the results of other investigations, which are not so narrowly drawn as Mueller’s.

  35. john430 says:

    Pelosi/Schumer Memo: Keep digging through all the feces, comrades. There’s a pony in there somewhere, we just know it. Keep spending the taxpayers money and do not, repeat, do not do any job that relates to actually governing.

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  36. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000: I think Matt Tiabi is one of our better journalists, and I think he is right that some on the left are slipping into conspiracy theory territory on Russia, including in the press.

    I would say that Trump’s war on the press has made a lot of this inevitable. He is acting like he is hiding something big, and so people look for something big.

    Tiabbi also has a history of reporting on conspiracy theories. He’s a little quick to jump to conspiracy theory as a conclusion because of this.

    The Russia connection stories did not start on election night, however. The first big events were Trump telling Russia to find Clinton’s emails (likely a joke, but one of those totally serious jokes), and stories about the change to the Republican platform. There were a bunch of other stories percolating as well.

    To all of which I say: don’t trust a biased summary of the Mueller Report. We need to release the entire report, or as much as we can due to national security concerns, and then have public congressional hearings to understand any ambiguous or surprising parts.

    ——

    As far as Trump’s compromise goes, the Russian government has had knowledge of the Trump Tower Moscow deal extending long past when Trump claimed it the negotiations ended, and they have had the ability to reveal that at any moment. This might not be enough to make Trump do something, like not implement bipartisan sanctions (although he did not implement the bipartisan sanctions), but they could drop that information to make Trump look guilty at the time of their choosing, to undermine America’s government.

    That’s compromise. And that’s the most innocent compromise, and the most documented.

    That’s not a crazy conspiracy theory.

    There has been a steady drip, drip, drip of information that is revealing Trump-Russia connections. Possibly perfectly fine connections, which Trump folks decided to cover up to avoid the appearance of unsavory Trump-Russia connections and collusion. It is possible that the steady drip is a Russian campaign to destabilize America. That is a conspiracy theory. It’s also entirely plausible.

    (I mean, if they aren’t doing that, it’s just because this stuff is coming out on its own… a weak America is good for Russia)

  37. An Interested Party says:

    My biggest beef right now is that we have a good deal of evidence that Trump has broken the law — with the Stormy Daniels thing, with some of his financial stuff, etc. The Russia thing sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Now that the Russia thing hasn’t ended in impeachment, it’s going to be far easier for him to dismiss those very real scandals.

    His sycophants and toadies at Fox News and elsewhere would dismiss the Stormy Daniels thing and his financial stuff with or without the Russia thing…the problem here isn’t that Mueller didn’t get him, but rather, that so many people refuse to believe the already known dirty shady truth about their great hero…

    Keep digging through all the feces, comrades. There’s a pony in there somewhere, we just know it. Keep spending the taxpayers money and do not, repeat, do not do any job that relates to actually governing.

    Oh, in other words, you are upset that you think they are doing what the Republican Congress did to Bill Clinton…somehow I doubt that what happened back then bothered you…

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  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    Sorry to be late to the party, but I was in the air and on the freeways of both the Bay Area and Los Angeles. I have not read much, and like everyone here, I have not read the actual report.

    Question: Why did Russia want Trump elected?

    That question remains. Why?

    Question: Why does Trump refuse to allow American interpreters or note-takers when he meets with Putin?

    Also not answered, it seems.

    In fact, nothing was evidently concluded except that Trump did not collude pro-actively with Putin to a degree that would satisfy the highest evidentiary level. According to two Trump appointees. We have no answer on money-laundering, which is the start point of all things Trump-Russia. No answer on emoluments. No answer on tax evasion, financial fraud, bank fraud. Mueller moved all the mob stuff to the SDNY. Let’s hear what they have to say.

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  39. mattbernius says:

    While the title is a little over the top, Ken White’s breakdown of the letter and why it is important to release the report (with redactions) is a worthwhile read:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/barr-mueller/585628/

  40. Tyrell says:

    Mueller’s report, as predicted by many, found nothing. This Sen. Nadler (a man consumed by his own greed)has written a list of names and is running around trying to find something wrong they have done. The proper procedure is to start with a crime and then find the persons responsible. This is a corruption of the system of justice.
    Our own personal information will no longer be safe. People will say “I have done nothing wrong”. Doesn’t matter. A tax error from years ago, a forgotten parking or traffic ticket, business activities, actions at work, some innocuous comment, school records, certain purchases, reading records Look at the military black ops raid on this Roger Stone. This will now be more common. This is the way things work now. The people have been hoodwinked and now are targets of this Congressional frame up. It is now here.
    Our elected people are obsessed with these investigations, instead of what they were elected to do.
    “Who’s going to monitor the monitors?” (“Enemy of the State”)
    “Somebody’s hacked into the power grid, traffic cams”
    “Here’s the thing, Jerry. You’re in a load of trouble son”
    (“Eagle Eye” )

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  41. Teve says:

    To demonstrate how stupid this White House is, claiming that the report exonerates the President serves only to call attention to the single most damaging statement in it: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    It’s like they’re running an experiment to see how stupid it’s possible to be and remain in power.

    -ed burmilla

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  42. An Interested Party says:

    For someone who seemingly just won a great victory, this fella certainly is acting like a whiny little bitch…

    To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.

    Awwwww…poor baby…

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  43. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So are we going to get any change in the preferred narrative that Trump was clearly a traitor, compromised and a Russian asset?

    No, we can’t rule that out.

    Think about it. If Mueller’s report is accurate, then not only did Trump no collude with Putin, but knew he hadn’t. He stills aw it necessary to engage in obstruction of justice, or at least to leave himself open to the charge, by firing Comey.

    Since he didn’t do this to protect himself, the question is why? There are two possibilities: 1) to protect his image, 2) to protect Russia and Putin.

    The first seems extreme even for Trump, but perhaps I overestimate him. The second explains why Dennison also fawns obsequiously over Putin, and continually engages in policies that help Russia, like withdrawal from the INF treaty, or weakening NATO.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell:

    Mueller’s report, as predicted by many, found nothing.

    Paul Manafort’s cell mate would likely disagree.

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  45. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kathy:

    He stills aw it necessary to engage in obstruction of justice, or at least to leave himself open to the charge, by firing Comey.

    That doesn’t mean very much to me. Trump is not a politician; he’s a spoiled rich manchild, arguably the most privileged person in human history, who sees himself as a perennial victim. His reaction to the probe was not what a politician would do — let it play out, but what a spoiled rich person would do — scream and yell about how awful it is that he’s being persecuted like this.

  46. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Guarneri: If collusion were easy to prove, every corporate officer in America and most entrepreneurs would be wearing orange jumpsuits stenciled DOC at this very moment.

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  47. An Interested Party says:

    @Hal_10000: So it’s only obstruction of justice if engaged in by an actual politician rather than a silver spoon man baby? Good to know…

  48. Guarneri says:

    @James Joyner:

    He did a crap job. He got people unrelated to the critical mission. He got people on process crimes. Keep flogging it if you like, but it was a travesty. And it turns out that after I made the point about the reportboth Tobin and Dershowitz made the exact same point. Dershowitz called it worthy only of a first year law student paper.

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  49. Guarneri says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    Lol. Spin on. Spin on. Spin until your dream comes true…..

  50. @Guarneri:

    He got people on process crimes.

    Which are, you know, crimes. You can tell by the convictions.

    Dershowitz called it

    So, I see you get your news from FNC.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    @An Interested Party: People voted for the silver spoon man baby. Not a majority, or even a plurality, but very nearly a plurality. He is, legally if not legitimately, the President.

    I think he’s a terrible, horrible president. I think he is damaging America. I think he has not governed for all of America, just his base, and even not really them.

    But, I think impeachment and conviction also damages America, and should only be undertaken for the gravest crimes, when the President cannot continue in office.

    I don’t think we should take impeachment off the table, but I wouldn’t want to remove someone from office for what turns out to be failed obstruction of justice. Or financial crimes. Or lying under oath about a blowjob.

    That said, sometimes I also think the House should be tossing articles of impeachment over to the Senate on a weekly basis, and leaving it to the Senate to say “these offenses do not merit removal from office.”

    Impeachment and conviction is radical surgery on the body of government. We should be wary that the cure isn’t worse than the disease.

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  52. Guarneri says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    How’s that collusion thingy working out for ya?? I told you two years ago.

    Michael beclowned. .

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  53. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri:

    He did a crap job. He got people unrelated to the critical mission. He got people on process crimes.

    Perhaps you should start calling your Congress critters and try to get these “process” crimes decriminalized.

    Go over all the indictments and convictions, and tell us which of these are harmless and not worth pursuing. Please, be specific.

    From Wikipedia:

    Manafort’s trial in the Eastern District of Virginia began on July 31, 2018, with District Judge T. S. Ellis III presiding.[73] Manafort was charged with various financial crimes including tax evasion, bank fraud, and money laundering.[55] There were 18 criminal charges including 5 falsifications of income tax returns, 4 failures to file foreign bank account reports, 4 counts of bank fraud, and 5 counts of bank fraud conspiracy.

    Which charges are the process crimes? Which should not even be crimes? Bank fraud? Falsifying income tax returns?

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Have you gotten a lease yet? I’m tellin ya, big money to be made.

  55. An Interested Party says:

    Impeachment and conviction is radical surgery on the body of government. We should be wary that the cure isn’t worse than the disease.

    Trump is closer to bubonic plague than he is to the common cold…

  56. DrDaveT says:

    “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    I’m a little surprised that I haven’t seen anyone focusing on the last five words of that statement. The other, much better-documented (at least in public) collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia had to do with dirt on Hillary Clinton. I haven’t heard a peep about that one, one way or the other.

    Anyone? Bueller?

  57. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Question: Why did Russia want Trump elected?

    That question remains. Why?

    Actually, we know. Putin hates the Clinton’s, especially Hillary. A lot of Russians hate Bill Clinton because he pwned Yeltsin at every turn and consistently steamrolled over Russian interests after the Cold War. Bill Clinton, according to most Russians, exploited Russian weakness to expand NATO into a de-facto anti-Russian alliance. All the talk about the end of the Cold War was BS in their view.

    Bill himself once remarked to Strob Talbot (working from memory here, don’t remember the exact quote) that US policy was akin to giving Yeltsin plates of shit for his face. Well, that’s how many Russians saw it too. They, especially the nationalists who now control the country, have not forgotten.

    More specifically, during Putin’s tenure, there’s only been one period of serious unrest in Russia and Putin directly blamed Hillary for fomenting it. Putin also accused her specifically of interfering in Russia’s parliamentary elections. And he was pretty pissed off when Russia abstained on the Libyan “humanitarian” UN resolution only to see the US, despite assurances, turn it into a regime change campaign which Hillary then joked about afterward. And there’s a long line of other incidents that have resulted in some really bad blood between her and Putin. And we can add in her hawkish campaign promises including a greater intervention in Syria to topple Assad.

    So the Russian’s had a lot of reasons to try to piss in Clinton’s Wheaties. Like everyone else, the Russians thought she would easily win the election, but they wanted to put her on notice and let her know they weren’t going to let her push them around as her husband did and also to give her a taste of what they think was her own medicine (election interference).

  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    You don’t piss in the Wheaties of the person you believe will be the next POTUS. That doesn’t fly. We are the greatest threat Russia faces, so the Russians will maliciously interfere to what, send a message? I don’t think that makes sense. It would be destructive of Russian interests, they know there’s a power imbalance. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

    And it does nothing to answer the question of why Trump insists on meeting with Putin – and only with Putin – without any record being made. If someone can give me an innocent answer on that I will be happy to listen.

    Just because a prosecutor has insufficient evidence to reach reasonable doubt does not mean the crime did not occur. I happen to know someone was skimming off the till at a certain bakery restaurant in Austin, Texas in 1980. There’s no evidence. But I am 100% sure it happened.

  59. Matt says:

    @Michael Reynolds: To me the goal was to injure Clinton and by extension the Democratic party as much as possible politically so her ability to do anything would be as gimped. So while she might be President she would be stuck with a very fractured/polarized country. Just look at how much hay the GOP made out of Benghazi alone. Blood in the water and all that. Trump winning was probably completely unexpected by them.

    The Russians have been manipulating social media and hacking basically everything since the 90s. This is just status quo for them.

  60. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You don’t piss in the Wheaties of the person you believe will be the next POTUS. That doesn’t fly. We are the greatest threat Russia faces, so the Russians will maliciously interfere to what, send a message? I don’t think that makes sense. It would be destructive of Russian interests, they know there’s a power imbalance. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

    And yet, they did.

    There was no reason to believe that Trump would get elected, and even Nate Silver was predicting only a 33% chance or so as Election Day approached.

    So, either the Russian government has way better polling data and analysis than anyone else, or they were pissing in the likely future POTUS’s Wheaties.

    Or they changed the vote totals, but stopped short of giving Trump a popular victory because they just wanted to mess with him (which would be kind of awesome in its own way, but we have no evidence of this)

    I’m not going to speculate on why they would risk pissing in Presidential Wheaties, or why Trump meets with Putin in secret, but the claim that they wouldn’t want to risk angering Clinton if she would be President is just not true.

  61. Ben Wolf says:

    @Hal_10000: You’ve got bigger problems. Russiagate hysterics have just handed Donald Trump a huge re-election gift: he can claim persecution by fake-news, Democrats and rogue intelligence agencies. And the claim will be true.

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  62. Ben Wolf says:

    More interesting, for those of us who enjoy observing the pack of half-evolved apes making up the bulk of the Democratic “Party”, is where it goes from here. There are two basic reasons for cerebrally-challenged Russiagate peddling:

    1) The liberal class is incapable of accepting any responsibility for its fuckups. When Russiagate was hatched in Robby Mook’s office immediately following Clinton’s poltroonish defeat, it was with one goal in mind: protecting the Clinton campaign staff’s careers and paychecks. Later it became an outlet for mass denial from a class that views itself as morally and intellectually infallible.

    2) Russiagate was extremely useful for distracting low-information liberals (which is most) from noticing the Democratic Party is MAGA country. They separate families, put children in cages, bomb civilians, start gratuitous wars, take bribes, beat up immigrants, complain about anchor babies and deny climate change. Most Democrats in D.C. are one paycheck away from doing Prager U infomercials on the threat of gay adoption.

    This calculus hasn’t changed, so where do they go from here? These are people who need a target. Lack of a foreign offender means they will begin looking at themselves, which is, of course, completely unacceptable. They have doctorates. They have expertise. They have sophisticated tastes. Of course they can’t have lost to an orange ape. Someone else, someone foreign, someone other is to blame. And given the average libbo’s historical memory ends five minutes ago, we can expect that:

    A) Russiagate will be very quickly forgotten, as though it never happened.

    B) They will turn their attention to their left. Expect a renewed, sustained and fanatical attack on Bernie Sanders, Berniebros, socialism, and anything else they can identify as a vector for a foreign influence on their “purity”. It will be of even greater scale than Russiagate, and even less concerned for fact and reason. I for one am looking forward to testing the hypothesis.

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  63. Jen says:

    I’m a glass is half-full kind of person, and think this might just turn out okay.

    Mueller stuck to the parameters of his investigation–Russian interference and coordination–and found not enough to further indict. No one can complain that he used his investigatory power to go on a fishing expedition because he remained in his lane on this.

    He did, however, stumble across a fair amount of other material that he passed on to the appropriate jurisdictions. How many additional investigations are currently running? Those, potentially, are more dangerous to Trump Crime Family, Inc. than this–particularly the state-level ones, for which there will be no pardons.

    This investigation will slip off of people’s radar screens and Trump cannot continue to screech about the other ongoing investigations.

    There is a PILE of head-scratching connections with Russians. One wonders how Trump and his crew will behave going forward. Will they be chastened by the close call, or will they be emboldened and become sloppy?

  64. SC_Birdflyte says:

    For all the Trumpidians who are chortling about the Barr summary of the Mueller report, predicting that Agent Orange’s re-election is now assured, just a reminder: Lots of things can go wrong over the next 19 months. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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  65. Ben Wolf says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: No, it isn’t over. Trump and his followers are going to spend the next 19 months breaking Democrats on the rack.

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  66. dennis says:

    Now, you know how and why the sovereign citizens and militia separatist movements got started: the system is corrupt. Anyone who has ever investigated crimes knows Trump & Co. are guilty as sin of coordinating its efforts with Russia (Manafort, Wikileaks data dumps) and obstructing justice (firing Comey, lies, lies, and more lies).
    I am totally disgusted with the process, but not surprised by it. Hell, it has always been like this. That a candidate can win the majority of votes and still lose exposes how broken and corrupt the system really is.

    “So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f**k you’re talking about. Yosemite?” – Will McAvoy, The Newsroom.

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  67. I would say this: it seems to me that there is an awful lot of conclusion-reaching about Trump, 2020, and a host of related issues over a letter summarizing a report.

    It is as if, all of a sudden, that summary is all that matters (and even then, said summary actually leaves open the question of obstruction of justice). A few steps back are in order.

    *It is clearly not the complete exoneration claimed by Trump and his supporters.

    *And while, yes, the report is good news for Trump (versus what it could have been), this does not mean that his presidency is now, all of a sudden, normal.

    *Some seem to have forgotten the implication of the sitting president of a felony, not to mention Flynn, Manafort, and a gaggle of others. This was not a zero-results investigation (not by a long shot). And, moreover, the administration remains deeply flawed.

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  68. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    *It is clearly not the complete exoneration claimed by Trump and his supporters.

    *And while, yes, report is good news for Trump (versus what it could have been), this does not mean that his presidency is now, all of a sudden, normal.

    *Some seem to have forgotten the implication of the sitting president of a felony, not to mention Flynn, Manafort, and a gaggle of others. This was not a zero-results investigation (not by a long shot). And, moreover, the administration remains deeply flawed.

    Concur on all fronts.

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  69. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I particularly like the notion that Trump will be able to whine about persecution and that will guarantee him re-election. I’d love to meet one voter who was planning to vote against Trump who will change his or her mind because Democrats were mean to him.

    I also see a great danger for Trump and the Trumpies here, especially now that they’ve purged anyone with actual experience or intelligence from the White House. If they do what their fans are now screaming for and attempt to prosecute Democrats for the crime of being mean to Trump, that overreach could easily push non-fanatics away from him.

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  70. wr says:

    @wr: Meanwhile, I do find it amusing that the Trumpies here who are demanding that congressional Democrats apologize to Trump or resign in disgrace are still claiming that HRC murdered Americans in Benghazi after eight Republican investigations have proven this to be nonsense.

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  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dennis: Indeed! And boom!

  72. Ben Wolf says:

    I particularly like the notion that Trump will be able to whine about persecution and that will guarantee him re-election. I’d love to meet one voter who was planning to vote against Trump who will change his or her mind because Democrats were mean to him.

    This is exactly the kind of moronic statement demonstrating how little liberals understand their country. The vindication of Donald Trump, which is exactly what Robert Mueller has done in explicitly concluding that Trump and his associates did not conspire with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election, contrasted against the dozens of breathlessly reported accusations which had to be retracted, contrasted against crazed conspiracists like Rachael Maddow reporting the Russians will knock out your electricity and freeze you to death, contrasted with the many journalists who have been found to have outright fabricated the evidence on which they base their reporting, means that any other attempts to investigate Trump for things he actually is guilty of will fall on deaf ears.

    This has been an even greater disaster for the Democratic Party and the liberal-class media than the 2016 election. They have made Donald Trump untouchable for the remainder of his first term in office.

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  73. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Ben Wolf: In your dreams. You seem to forget that our President is a wanker who can’t keep his mouth shut. Right now, he’s like Gollum, dancing on the ledge over the Cracks of Doom, rejoicing in the fact that he has the ring of power.

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  74. Scott O says:

    Apparently in the alternate reality that conservatives occupy Rachael Maddow is a crazed conspiracist and Donald Trump is not. Whatever.

  75. An Interested Party says:

    @Ben Wolf: No offense, sweetie, and I mean this with all due respect, but you are one delusional fuck…in the first place, SC_Birdflyte makes the very sensible point that Trump is often his own worst enemy…and in the second place, I don’t seem to recall that all of the wild-eyed conspiracies dreamed up by Republicans about Hillary Clinton, or even Barack Obama, all of which are far more implausible than any accusations directed at Trump, hurt the GOP at the ballot box…