What to Know About Trump, Russia, and Robert Mueller
UPDATE 3:50 PM
With the House Intelligence Committee hearing wrapped, here are more key takeaways for today:
- Mueller reaffirmed that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help in the 2016 election.
- Mueller confirmed that Trump and Trump’s team’s shady foreign connections even beyond Russian interference were extensive.
- Mueller reiterated that Russian interference in our democracy continues and will continue into 2020.
- Mueller said of Trump’s praise for Wikileaks, “problematic is an understatement.”
Finally, above all — today has reaffirmed in crystal clear terms the most important fact about the Mueller report — Trump has NOT been exonerated of wrongdoing, and Trump’s wrongdoing has left the country vulnerable and damaged our democracy.
UPDATE 3:46 PM
Key Point: This from Chairman Adam Schiff sums up the critical big picture signficance behind the Mueller report — a campaign so desperate to win as to accept help from foreign powers is a campaign that can be blackmailed by those same powers.
UPDATE 2:23 PM
Key Point: Trump team’s shady foreign ties were extensive even beyond Russian interference.
In responding to questioning by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Robert Mueller reconfirmed the extensive network and shady foreign ties between Trump, his associates, and foreign governments and their proxies and that numerous Trump’s associates were caught lying and convicted for it. Mueller also explicitly refuted Trump — stating his investigation was “not a witch-hunt.”
UPDATE 12:22 PM
With the first of today’s two hearings featuring Robert Mueller wrapped, here are some key takeaways so far:
- Robert Mueller has reaffirmed that the president was not exonerated.
- Mueller has confirmed multiple instances were the president attempted to obstruct justice.
- Mueller has confirmed that the president can be charged once he’s out of office.
- Mueller has implied that the reason he did not indict Trump is because of DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted.
UPDATE 11:25 AM
Key Point: Robert Mueller seemed to imply in response to questioning from Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33) that the he declined to indict Donald Trump because of an Office of Legal Counsel opinion stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. As has been said before and can’t be said enough — NO EXONERATION.
LIEU: I’d like to ask you, the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
UPDATE 11:08 AM
Robert Mueller just affirmed another key example of Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice in response to a line of questioning by Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01).
CICILLINE: In other words Mr. Lewandowski, a private citizen, was instructed by the president of the United States to deliver a message from the president to the attorney general that directed him to limit your investigation, correct?
UPDATE, 10:00 AM
This sure sounds like obstruction of justice. And it’s just one example.
In response to questioning from Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-4), Robert Mueller just confirmed the President attempted to obstruct justice by instructing White House Counsel to have Mueller fired.
JOHNSON: “You’re investigation found that President Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire you. Isn’t that correct?
UPDATE, 9:18 AM
It didn’t take long into this hearing for Robert Mueller to make clear once again that President Trump has not been exonerated.
NADLER: “Director Mueller, the president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it?
MUELLER: “Correct, that is not what the report said.”
July 23, Initial Article
On Wednesday, July 24, just over three months after a version of Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election was made available to the public, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees. As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff described it, the hearings will provide an opportunity for Congress to bring Mueller’s 448 page report “to life” for the American people in a way that hasn’t been possible with a lengthy, prosecutorial legal text — the release of which was also subject to the chosen timing and pre-release spin of Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General, William Barr.
Since he took office, we’ve followed Trump’s connections with Russia and the numerous investigations extensively. Here are the most important things to know about Trump, Russia, and Robert Mueller as all eyes are on Capitol Hill this week.
Mueller Explicitly Declared That His Report Did Not Exonerate Trump
On May 29, in the only public remarks the former special counsel has made on the investigation prior to his scheduled congressional testimony, Robert Mueller declared, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” And while Mueller’s report did not recommend indictment for the president, Mueller further emphasized in his May 29 public statement that because of his belief that Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president — “charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” In other words, there was never an exoneration of guilt.
Mueller Made His No-Exoneration Declaration In Response To An Extensive Propaganda Campaign By AG William Barr
Mueller’s appearance was particularly striking given it followed and clearly appeared to rebut an intensive effort by the Trump Administration, particularly Attorney General William Barr, to twist the Mueller report’s findings to Trump’s benefit on the investigation’s biggest questions: whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice to hinder investigations into Russia’s interference.
Barr’s campaign began on March 24, when he pre-empted the eventual April 18 public release of the redacted Mueller report by first getting out his own highly misleading summary of Mueller’s findings in a letter to Congress.
Barr attempted to spin the Mueller report to the same effect with a “press conference” again on the morning of April 18, shortly before the redacted report’s release and before any reporters had been able to read the report itself.
The attorney general’s misleading March 24 summary cherry-picked quotes from Mueller’s report while removing essential context to imply that Mueller found no evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr also claimed in his summary that Mueller did not draw a conclusion either way as to whether the president obstructed justice, while also asserting that the supposed absence of a conclusion left it to him as attorney general whether or not the president obstructed justice and — surprise — Barr determined that Donald Trump did not obstruct justice.
Even before taking the step of making a public statement in May, Robert Mueller privately complained to Barr about the attorney general’s mischaracterization of his report. On March 27, three days after Barr released his misleading summary, Mueller sent a letter to Barr stating that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s investigation and pointing out that Barr’s mischaracterizations had caused “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.” Mueller further requested that Barr release the report’s introductions and executive summaries.
And since its release on April 18, the facts as laid out in the Mueller report have shown that the truth about Trump and Russia is far uglier than the largely innocent picture Barr has tried so hard to paint.
Mueller’s No-Exoneration Declaration Is In Line With The “Damning” Findings of His Report
Far from exonerating President Trump, Mueller’s report has been described as “damning” and “devastating” by multiple Members of Congress, press, and legal experts.
The Mueller report itself identifies 272 contacts between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives, including 38 meetings at minimum. Among these described contacts in the report are details of how Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, tried? to share internal polling data with Konstantin Kilminik, “who the FBI has assessed to be ‘tied to Russian intelligence.’”
The report also describes 10 instances where the president potentially obstructed justice, including his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and Mueller makes clear that where Trump failed to influence the Russia investigation it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, but rather because of aides who “declined to carry out orders.”
Additionally, Mueller’s investigation resulted in the indictment of 34 individuals, including Manafort, Gates, Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and other extremely close Trump confidants such as Roger Stone and Michael Cohen. Multiple members of Trump’s inner circle including Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Cohen, and more, have been convicted of crimes and are currently incarcerated, have already served time, or are awaiting sentencing.
For all the president’s cries of “No Collusion, No Obstruction!,” Mueller’s testimony this week presents an opportunity for the country to hear the facts in a very real and tangible way. Bridge Project will continue shining a light on Trump’s Russia links as well and the constant circus of corruption and chaos out of his White House that continues to plague our country.