The long-awaited Mueller Report is in. If you’re a Democrat…you have everything you wanted. If you’re a Republican…you have everything you wanted. But no matter which side of the aisle you’re on, we’re all getting our first look at what two years of investigation and about $30-million of taxpayer funds gets you. What’s that? More than 400-pages of material. In it:
The President’s reaction to the appointing of Robert Mueller? He was less than pleased. “Oh my God. This is terrible,” he reportedly said. This is the end of my presidency…Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
While the Trump campaign wasn’t ‘colluding’ with Russia…there was a good amount of communication.
As Mueller saw it, there were 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice analyzed by the special counsel.
Mueller’s team found “multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”
What kept those “multiple acts” from crossing the line in to actual crimes? The White House staff – and their unwillingness to carry out the President’s directives. For example, when his White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller. Apparently, McGahn admitted to investigators that President Trump called him twice, telling him "Mueller has to go." Trump apparently ordering McGahn to inform Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of that decision. McGahn felt uncomfortable with the request…and did not want to trigger a "Saturday Night Massacre" situation. That’s the moniker given to President Nixon's infamous 1973 purge of Justice Department officials who refused to fire the special prosecutor investigating Watergate.
On another occasion: After Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign in May 2017, the president held on to his resignation letter for 13 days. He showed it to aides on Air Force One…and he was warned such behavior could function as a “shock collar” to influence the Justice Department. Finally, on May 30th, the president returned the letter with a notation: “Not accepted.” Sessions ultimately stepped down Novmber 2018
Mueller's final report says there was not enough evidence to prove that attendees willfully broke the law – not even with that infamous Trump Tower meeting. As you’ll recall, Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign team attended the meeting with a Russian lawyer. The meeting was billed it as an opportunity to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Still, Mueller wrote that he didn’t try to come to a conclusion about the president’s actual innocence or guilt because of a longstanding Justice Department policy that prevents a sitting president from being charged and put on trial.
In releasing the report, Attorney General William Barr has confirmed that the White House got early access to the redacted final report…and did not respond to press questions that he’s acting more like the President's lawyer than the attorney general. As for the unredacted version of the report, the Republican and Democratic heads in the Senate and House intelligence and judiciary committees will get to see that version next week, as will the leaders of both parties in the Senate and House. The Justice Department will provide a secure reading room for them to review the report.