The Justice Department released the redacted version of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Here are key lines:
Trump campaign “expected” help from Russians but did not conspire
Mueller’s report concludes that it “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in the election interference activities.”
That’s as clear as it can be, but Mueller also concluded that both the Russian government and the Trump campaign believed the other would be beneficial.
Here’s how the report put it:
“[T]he investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts…”
Trump asked campaign aides to find Hillary Clinton’s emails
Mueller learned that after publicly saying he hoped Russia would find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails from her private server, Trump asked people associated with his campaign to find them, including a future member of his White House staff.
“Michael Flynn — who would later serve as national security adviser in the Trump Administration — recalled that Trump made the request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails,” the report says.
Trump privately and repeatedly “asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails,” the report says.
Flynn and another campaign official, Sam Clovis, were also aware of an ongoing effort by longtime Republican operative Peter Smith and former Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen to find the emails.
But, the report says, Mueller “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.”
Mueller “does not exonerate” Trump on obstruction
Mueller offers no definitive conclusion on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice during the course of his investigation.
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report says.
The evidence “about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred,” Mueller adds.
Furthermore, Mueller makes it clear his investigators would have said there was no obstruction if they could demonstrate it: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”
Aides refused to help efforts to obstruct
Mueller reports that because aides and advisers to Trump refused to “carry out orders,” the President was prevented from influencing the special counsel’s investigation.
Here’s the relevant line: “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
White House counsel Don McGahn received a phone call at home from Trump on June 17, 2017. Trump directed McGahn to call Rosenstein and tell him Mueller “had conflicts of interest and must be removed.”
According to the report, McGahn refused and said he would “rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.” That’s a reference to President Richard Nixon’s order to his attorney general to fire the independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. Both the attorney general and the deputy attorney general resigned rather than carry out the order.
Mueller says Congress can pursue investigation of Trump obstruction
Members of Congress will zero in on one critical section in Mueller’s report. The special counsel provides a constitutional justification for its own investigation, but also points out that Congress can also apply obstruction laws in investigating and impeaching a sitting president.
Here’s the relevant line in the report: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
The report also cites Supreme Court precedent and the separation of powers to say “the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice.”
Trump dropped F-bomb after Mueller got the job
According to the report, the President said in May 2017 that the appointment of the special counsel was the “end” of his presidency.
When he learned deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference, Trump apparently “slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f***ed.'”
Could not prove Trump Jr. “willfully” broke law with Trump Tower meeting
Mueller did not prosecute President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., over his actions in accepting a meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower with a Russian national who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Investigators could not prove Trump Jr. or the other campaign officials at the meeting “willfully” violated the law.
The other Trump officials at the meeting were Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chair Paul Manafort, who agreed to meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The special counsel concluded that prosecuting the campaign officials present for campaign-finance violations would be too difficult to pursue.
“The Office ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law.”