President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that former special counsel Robert Mueller illegally ‘terminated’ communications between FBI employees who ‘worked for him’ during his lengthy Russia investigation.
‘Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated all of the emails … Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime,’ Trump said during a Fox Business Network interview.
The president was referring to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a former FBI agent and FBI lawyer who exchanged disparaging messages about the president during a 2016 love affair.
Trump didn’t specify what kind of material might have been in any ‘terminated’ messages.
But he predicted that Mueller’s July 17 testimony in a pair of back-to-back congressional hearings might backfire on the Democrats who organized them.
‘The Republicans are going to ask him plenty,’ Trump said.
President Trump vented about Robert Mueller’s agreement to testify in a congressional hearing: ‘It never ends!’ He suggested that Republicans will grill Mueller and accused the former special counsel of ‘terminating’ evidence in the Russia probe
The president appeared on the Fox Business Network on Wednesday morning for an extended interview
Robert Mueller will be testifying before Congress July 17 in a pair of back-to-back hearings in two Democrat-controlled committees
Trump has complained about a growing list of Obama-era Justice Department officials in the past, including (right) former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and (left) former FBI senior agent Peter Strzok, who exchanged derogatory text messages about him during a love affair in 2016 while they were engaged in a Trump-focused Russia probe
The president has contended for years that an effort by Hillary Clinton’s rival campaign and the Democratic National Committee to gather intelligence on him became an illegal form of government surveillance when the Obama administration’s Justice Department made use of the results.
Much of the information in what later became known as the ‘dirty dossier’ came from from Russian sources, opening Democrats up to the same charge they have pasted him with: colluding with foreigners to impact the presidential contest.
‘Now the shoe is turning,’ Trump said Wednesday, torturing an idiom.
Republicans in Congress, he said, will use Mueller’s time on the hot seat to make Democrats squirm.
‘They think it’s going to be revealed. The real stuff. The real stuff is coming down,’ Trump said, suggesting the Mueller hearings will be a smokescreen to cover Democrats’ complicity in a plot to snoop on his 2016 presidential campaign.
‘You had people spying on my campaign,’ he said. ‘It’s very simple. … They got caught and they’re running around going wild trying to do everything they can.’
‘It never ends,’ Trump said. ‘We had no obstruction, we had no collusion …. Mueller was obviously not a Trump fan, not a Trump person.’
The president has long complained that Democrats were responsible for the only ‘crime’ related to Mueller’s lengthy Russia probe – the solicitation of a multimillion-dollar contract to assemble a spurious dossier of dirt on him that included intelligence from Russians.
A House Republican claimed Tuesday night that a ‘friendly’ subpoena compelling Mueller to testify in an open congressional hearing might not be valid – but warned the GOP will take advantage of the chance to grill Trump’s nemesis anyway on July 17.
‘Bob Mueller better be prepared, because he will be cross-examined for the first time, and the American people will start to see the flaws in his report,’ North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said on the Fox News Channel.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said Tuesday night that the subpoena Democrats issued for Mueller’s testimony might be invalid
Meadows complained that Democrats in the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees announced their joint subpoena on the House floor instead of notifying committee Republicans.
And he claimed that the result might be invalid ‘because you can’t issue the same subpoena from two different committees.’
Mueller, he said, might regret agreeing to testify in a ‘sham’ hearing after proclaiming that he would never expand on the lengthy report that closed nearly two years of investigations.
Mueller found that there was insufficient evidence to support the contention that launched the probe – that the president’s campaign colluded with Russian agents to help him win the 2016 election.
He left open, however, the question of whether Trump obstructed justice once his term in office began.
Mueller said of his report on May 29: ‘We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress.’
‘Bob Mueller said it all: 445 pages, that’s all I’m going to say,’ Meadows complained Tuesday. ‘And what has he been doing? He’s been courted by the other side just so they can harass the president and keep on this narrative that – honestly there’s no “there” there.’
Trump appeared to respond to the Mueller news with a tweet Tuesday night
Mueller said last month that ‘the report is my testimony,’ and ‘beyond what is said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further.’
Nadler wrote Tuesday: ‘I am pleased to announce that @HouseJudiciary and House Intel will have Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify in open session on July 17, pursuant to a subpoena issued this evening.’
‘We look forward to having Mr. Mueller testify, as do all Americans,’ he added.
President Trump responded with a single phrase on Twitter: ‘Presidential Harassment!’
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff said it was not a ‘friendly’ subpoena that brought Mueller to the table, saying Mueller was ‘deeply reluctant’ to testify.
‘I don’t think the special counsel’s office considers it a friendly subpoena,’ he told CNN. He was and is deeply reluctant to come testify, but nevertheless he has agreed to respect the subpoena,’ Schiff said.
He said the two congressional committees would hear from Mueller in public in back-to-back hearings, with Judiciary likely going first.
Nadler told the network: ‘I think he’ll answer the questions that are put to him because it’s his civic duty to do so and he’s an upstanding prosecutor.’
‘Mueller is an honest upstanding citizen and he will testify in response to the subpoena that we issued. He is not going to let the White House or anybody else tell him to defy a lawful subpoena,’ Nadler added.
House Judiciary Committee Jerold Nadler said Mueller agreed to talk after receiving a subpoena issued Tuesday night
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off calls to begin impeachment proceedings
Nadler and Schiff announced Mueller’s upcoming testimony
The lawmakers wrote Mueller a letter while issuing a subpoena, saying ‘the American public deserves to hear directly from you’
Nadler wrote: ‘Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.
His announcement comes days after former Trump press secretary Hope Hicks testified before his committee in private – drawing criticism from some fellow Democrats who said the closed meeting deprived them of the ability to draw attention to what is in the report.
Mueller has resisted efforts to appear during weeks of negotiations. He delivered a brief statement to the press weeks after the release of the report – and after Attorney General Bill Barr released his own letter summarizing findings.
Special counsel Robert Mueller makes a statement about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election at the Justice Department on May 29, 2019 in Washington, shortly before leaving the Justice Department. He has yet to answer questions about the probe
Nadler and Schiff of California have since tried to persuade Mueller to appear – even as the White House executed a strategy of holding back other potential key witnesses from testifying.
The public event may give the Democrats the best chance yet to shine a light on derogatory information contained within the Mueller report, which Trump has called a ‘complete exoneration.’
Mueller examined 10 different episodes of potential obstruction of justice – including efforts by Trump to get his attorney general to un-recuse himself and regain control of the Russia probe, push out Mueller himself, and get White House counsel Don McGahn to issue a statement that contradicted stating that Trump never tried to get him to fire Mueller.
Barr, who stated that the Mueller found no collusion had occurred and determined not to charge the president with obstruction, testified before the Senate but has yet to testify before the Democratic-controlled House.
The White House has claimed former White House counsel Don McGahn has ‘absolute immunity’ from testifying
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks testified before House Judiciary in a closed session
Mueller examined Trump’s attacks on attorney general Jeff Sessions and his efforts to get Sessions to un-recuse himself from overseeing the probe
Trump has attacked the probe as a ‘witch hunt,’ said it showed ‘no collusion,’ and stood by his claim that Mueller was ‘highly conflicted’
Democrats will ask Mueller to explain that was behind a letter he wrote to Attorney General William Barr following Barr’s own summary – and whether he intended for Barr to make a decision on not charging Trump or whether he intended for Congress to decide under its own impeachment power
The White House counsel’s office has instructed multiple other witnesses, including McGahn, not to appear, while also holding back documents that Democrats say are critical to their own probes.
News comes just days before Trump is set to hold yet another meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Mueller report in its first volume details the efforts by a Russian troll farm to interfere in the 2016 presidential election through social media posts, fake rallies, racially divisive social media campaigns, and a hacking operation that put out thousands of Democratic emails.
The report also details how the St. Petersburg-based troll farm and hacking operation got funded by a key ally of Putin’s.
Trump told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ he ‘may’ raise election interference with Russia during their meeting in Japan this week.
Wrote Schiff: ‘Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress pursuant to subpoena. Russia attacked our democracy to help Trump win. Trump welcomed and used that help. As Mueller said, that should concern every American. And now, every American will get to hear directly from Mueller.’
Barr has said repeatedly he would leave it up to Mueller whether he wants to testify.
One area lawmakers are certain to explore in testimony are apparent differences between Mueller and Barr, who have been friends for years and whose wives in the past have attended bible study together.
Mueller wrote Barr following the Attorney General’s 4-page March 24 summary of the report, before it was made public.
Mueller told Barr his letter – ‘did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance’ of his 448-page report.
‘There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,’ he said.
Mueller said in his own press statement that he would not speak beyond the contents of his report. However, Schiff said lawmakers were not bound to respect his wishes.
‘There’s no limitation on confining his testimony to the four corners of the report. That may be his desire,’ said Schiff.
In addition to two back-to-back sessions, Schiff said there would be an opportunity for a closed session with staff to allow for discussion of classified matters. The report contains significant redactions, and even the copies provided to Congress were partially redacted, although most of the report is out.
Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia issued a statement on Mueller’s appearance saying: ‘Three months after the special counsel completed his investigation, two months after the attorney general made the less redacted report available to congressional leadership, and two months after I asked Chairman Nadler to invite Robert Mueller to testify, we may actually get to hear from the author of the report.’
Collins added: ‘While the special counsel found that no Americans conspired with Russia to attempt to interfere in our elections, many have willfully misrepresented that conclusion while Democrats have neglected their responsibility to safeguard future elections from foreign influence. I hope the special counsel’s testimony marks an end to the political gamesmanship that Judiciary Democrats have pursued at great cost to taxpayers. May this testimony bring to House Democrats the closure that the rest of America has enjoyed for months, and may it enable them to return to the business of legislating.’
Said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: ‘We are pleased that the American people will hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller. Our national security is being threatened and the American people deserve answers.’
She continued: ‘The Mueller Report revealed that the Russians waged a ‘sweeping and systematic’ attack on our elections, and America’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials have warned that the Russians will attack our elections again. Yet, sadly the President calls it a hoax, and suggests that he would welcome Russian interference again.
‘Members of Congress must honor our oath and our patriotic duty to follow the facts, so we can protect our democracy,’ Pelosi concluded.
HOW ROBERT MUELLER BROKE TWO YEARS OF SILENCE: HIS FULL STATEMENT RESIGNING AND NOT CLEARING TRUMP OF A CRIME
This is the script Robert Mueller read from at the Department of Justice on May 29, his first public statement since being appointed as special counsel
Two years ago, the Acting Attorney General asked me to serve as Special Counsel, and he created the Special Counsel’s Office.
The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. And we are formally closing the Special Counsel’s Office. As well, I am resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.
I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself.
Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.
As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.
The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.
And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.
These indictments contain allegations. And we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. That is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office.
That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.
Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate.
The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.
And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the President.
The order appointing me Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work.
As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.
We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision.
It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.
The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.
The Department’s written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:
First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.
And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.
And beyond Department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.
So that was the Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. From them we concluded that we would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.
We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the Attorney General—as required by Department regulations.
The Attorney General then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and the American people.
At one point in time I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make the entire report public all at once. We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. I do not question the Attorney General’s good faith in that decision.
I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter. I am making that decision myself—no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.
There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.
The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.
So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.
It is for that reason that I will not take questions here today.
Before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, and the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel’s Office, were of the highest integrity.
I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.
That allegation deserves the attention of every American.
Fifteen shocking revelations from the Mueller report
Many of these revelations do not involve President Trump directly, but rather the people around him, from his family to his administration.
From Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr avoiding charges due to their ignorance and Sarah Sanders admitting she supplied false information to the press, to the money Betsy DeVos’ brother fronted to try and get
Sarah Sanders provides the press with false information
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is seen above holding a press briefing on May 10, 2017
The reasoning behind President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey was the focus of the White House press briefing on May 10, 2017.
Sarah Sanders told the reporters in attendance that the Department of Justice, President Trump and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle had lost confidence in the FBI director.
Then she took things one step further by stating: ‘[a]nd most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director. Accordingly, the President accepted the recommendation of his Deputy Attorney General to remove James Comey from his position.’
It was then noted by one reporter that a ‘vast majority’ of agents supported Comey, prompting the press secretary to note: ‘Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.’
Sanders later admitted that her comment about speaking to ‘countless members’ of the FBI was a ‘slip of the tongue’, and that the remark about the ‘rank-and-file’ FBI agents losing their confidence in Comey was unfounded and ‘made in the heat of the moment’.
She never informed the press of this ‘slip of the tongue’ or unfounded comment.
Donald Trump Jr is a mouthpiece for WikiLeaks
Donald Trump Jr. got a message that read: ‘Great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us’
On October 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter sent a direct message to Donald Trump Jr asking ‘you guys’ to share a post that alleged Hillary Clinton ‘had advocated using a drone to target Julian Assange’.
Trump Jr revealed he had already done so, and began to talk about WikiLeaks with increasing frequency.
On October 12 he got another message that read: ‘Great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us.’
He was the given a link to help in ‘digging through’ leaked emails, while being told that the organization had ‘just released Podesta emails Part 4.’
Trump Jr shared the link two days later.
President Trump launches search for Hillary Clinton’s emails
Multiple individuals were involved in finding 30,000 deleted Clinton emails including former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway
Then-candidate Trump asked those affiliated with his campaign to find the 30,000 deleted emails.
‘Michael Flynn… recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails. Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith were among the people contacted by Flynn,’ states the report.
Multiple individuals were soon involved, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.
Ledeen and Smith would often communicate regarding efforts to retrieve the emails, and Smith drafted several emails suggesting he was in contact with Russian hackers.
‘[I]n one such email, Smith claimed that, in August 2016, KLS Research had organized meetings with parties who had access to the deleted Clinton emails, including parties with ties and affiliations to Russia,’ said the report.
‘The investigation did not establish that Smith was in contact with Russian hackers or that Smith, Ledeen, or other individuals in touch with the Trump Campaign ultimately obtained the deleted Clinton emails.’
Erik Prince funds the vetting of Hillary’s emails
When emails that may have come from Hillary Clinton needed to be vetted, it was Betsy DeVos’ brother who put up the money to have them examined.
Barbara Ledeen, whose husband had co-authored a book with General Michael Flynn, had emails that she claimed were from the ‘dark web.’
A tech adviser was needed to authenticate the emails, and so Ledeen started to solicit donations.
Erik Prince agreed to find the operation, which ultimately concluded that the emails were not in fact real.
Manafort’s lost millions
Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is seen at the Republican National Convention, in Cleveland in July 2016
Paul Manafort did not have many job prospects at the time he came on board to work for the Trump campaign, and was of the belief that taking a role would be ‘good for business’.
That was a reference to the $2 million he was owed for work he did for questionable operatives in the country that he had not been paid for at that time.
He also hoped that his new job might help him get Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska a visa, and that the man would in turn drop a lawsuit against him.
And for reasons that are still somewhat unclear, Manafort kept Ukrainian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik abreast of all developments in the campaign and how Trump was polling.
Robert Mueller goes clubbing
‘In October 2011, Mueller resigned his family’s membership from Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, in a letter that noted that “we live in the District and find that we are unable to make full use of the Club” and that inquired “whether we would be entitled to a refund of a portion of our initial membership fee,” which was paid in 1994,’ notes the report. Mueller is seen above
President Trump wanted Mueller gone in the days following his appointment, and began to toss out potential conflicts
He pointed out that ‘Mueller had interviewed for the FBI Director position,’ that ‘he had worked for a law firm that represented people affiliated with the President,’ and that he had disputed fees at a Trump golf club he belonged to in Virginia.
That claim was played up, even though the reality of the situation told a much different story.
‘In October 2011, Mueller resigned his family’s membership from Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, in a letter that noted that “we live in the District and find that we are unable to make full use of the Club” and that inquired “whether we would be entitled to a refund of a portion of our initial membership fee,” which was paid in 1994,’ notes the report.
‘About two weeks later, the controller of the club responded that the Muellers’ resignation would be effective October 31, 2011, and that they would be “placed on a waitlist to be refunded on a first resigned I first refunded basis.”‘
Hope Hicks hangs up on Putin
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is seen in this February 2018 photo
Hope Hicks received a phone call from a unknown Russian man shortly after President Trump’s victory on election night.
Unsure who it was she instructed the person to email her, but did hear the words ‘Putin call.’
She received an email the next morning from Sergey Kuznetsov, an official at the Russian Embassy to the United States, with the subject line ‘Message from Putin.’
The letter congratulated Trump and noted that he was looking forward to the two men working together, but Hicks was afraid to pass it along to her boss.
So she instead decided to email Jared Kushner, asking: ‘Can you look into this? Don’t want to get duped but don’t want to blow off Putin!’
Kushner said the best way to do this would be by contact the ambassador, but was unable to remember his name.
That man was Sergey Kislyak, and within days Kushner and General Flynn were meeting with him at Trump Tower to discuss setting up a secure line between President Trump and Putin.
President Trump is f***ed
‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’ m f***ed.,’ said President Trump while slumping in his chair. Trump is pictured above last month
On May 17, 2017, Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel by Rod Rosenstein.
Notes taken from a meeting that day revealed that when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed President Trump of the news he was less than thrilled about the appointment.
‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’ m f***ed.,’ said President Trump while slumping in his chair.
‘How could you let this happen, Jeff?’
President Trump then continued to bemoan the news, telling Sessions: “You were supposed to protect me’ and noting: ‘Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency.’
Wise guys Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr
Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner are seen above in a file photo from a book party in 2009
Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort managed to avoid being charged for violating campaign finance law by not being smart enough to know that they were engaging in unlawful activity.
In summarizing his findings from the infamous June 2016 meeting between members of the Trump campaign and Russian Natalia Veselnitskaya, Robert Mueller wrote that unlawful activity did take place, but the men who broke them were unaware of their illegal actions.
‘On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful,’ reads the report.
‘The investigation has not developed evidence that the participants in the meeting were familiar with the foreign-contribution ban or the application of federal law to the relevant factual context.’
‘Even assuming that the promised “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” constitute a “thing of value” under campaign-finance law, the government would encounter other challenges in seeking to obtain and sustain a conviction,’ wrote Mueller.
He then explained how reasonable doubt would make it hard to convict Don Jr and Kushner.
‘To prove that a defendant acted “knowingly and willfully,” the government would have to show that the defendant had general knowledge that his conduct was unlawful,’ wrote Mueller.
In closing out the reasons why no charges would be pursued, Mueller broke down the potential problems with getting a conviction for the three campaign members.
‘Additionally, in light of the unresolved legal questions about whether giving “documents and information” of the sort offered here constitutes a campaign contribution, Trump Jr. could mount a factual defense that he did not believe his response to the offer and the June 9 meeting itself violated the law,’ wrote Mueller.
‘Given his less direct involvement in arranging the June 9 meeting, Kushner could likely mount a similar defense.’
He then noted: ‘And, while Manafort is experienced with political campaigns, the Office has not developed evidence showing that he had relevant knowledge of these legal issues.’
The Steele dossier lives on
The dossier prepared by former agent Christopher Steele (seen above) claiming that a compromising tape of President Trump was in the possession of powerful Russians is backed up by Mueller
The dossier prepared by former agent Christopher Steele claiming that a compromising tape of President Trump was in the possession of powerful Russians is backed up by Mueller.
The nature of the tape is unknown, but in October 2016 Michael Cohen receive a message from a Russian businessman by the name of Giorgi Rtskhiladze.
‘Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know,’ stated that message in part.
Those tapes were ‘rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia.’
Hacking in hours
On July 27, 2016, Trump appeared at a rally where he stated: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’
That was a reference to the emails stored on Clinton’s server.
It took just five hours for GRU officers to target Clinton’s personal office in an attempt to hack into the system and obtain the emails.
Seth Rich exonerated
The report states once and for all, and without a shadow of a doubt, that murdered DNC worker Seth Rich (pictured) did not help leak emails
The report states once and for all, and without a shadow of a doubt, that murdered DNC worker Seth Rich did not help leak emails.
‘Beginning in the summer of 2016, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016,’ states the report.
‘The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails.’
Despite this, Assange still used the boy’s death to strongly suggest he was the source of the leaked emails to the cryptic statements he made at the time.
‘ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich,’ tweeted the WikiLeaks account after his death.
And when asked about his interested in the murder, Assange said: ‘We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged WikiLeaks sources.’
Trump goes silent
Mueller’s team did not issue a subpoena to force President Trump to give an interview to the special counsel because it would have created a ‘substantial delay’ at a late stage in the investigation.
President Trump refused an oral interview and provided only written answers for the questions he was willing to answer.
‘We also assessed that based on the significant body of evidence we had already obtained of the President’s actions and his public and private statements describing or explaining those actions, we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony,’ states the report.
Friends and frenemies
Trump and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort are seen at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016
Mueller said evidence he collected indicates Trump intended to encourage his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, not to cooperate with the investigation.
There was also evidence that appeared to support the idea that Trump wanted Manafort to believe that he could receive a presidential pardon.
‘During Manafort’s prosecution and when the jury in his criminal trial was deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon,’ notes the report.
‘After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort “a brave man” for refusing to “break” and said that “flipping” “almost ought to be outlawed.’
By contrast, he expressed ‘hostility’ towards General Flynn after learning he was cooperating with the investigation.
‘Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations,’ reads the report.
‘The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels.
‘These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.’