The Mueller Report: What You Should Know
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
On April 18, the anticipated Special Counsel report by Robert Mueller was released. Though redacted, the report did answer questions of the public, as well as those in Congress. The most contentious question before its release was that of hindering the case: did President Trump knowingly impede the Mueller investigation in a way that has hard evidence, and is prosecutable? The document seems to have answered this question to a certain extent, and it also revealed some things about Trump, the people surrounding him, and the nuances of the Mueller investigation itself. Suggested context is available in “ The Mueller Investigation ”.
The general conclusion of the Mueller Report was summarized by Attorney General Barr in his initial release of a brief statement. It was concluded that President Trump did not knowingly or willingly collude with Russia, because there wasn't any evidence present—or strong enough—to indict him. The question, however, about the extent of Trump’s possible obstruction of justice remained up for debate. Barr’s statements about Trump’s refusal to collaborate with Mueller were vague. This mystery about the obstruction of justice brought together the US House of Representatives, resulting in a 420-0 vote to release the Mueller Report to the public.
Though seemingly unifying, the mysterious nature of the report also fostered some partisan strife. The continuing Democratic Party opposition to Trump gained momentum again as substantial evidence that may have been in the report that could lead to impeachment. Despite multiple statements by lead Democrat congressmen and women that it would be less beneficial to indict Trump before he has the chance to be voted out of office in the 2020 election - including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi - speculations remain that the Democratic party is still on the road to impeaching Trump.
After the report was released, the two most important conclusions were reached: one, that Trump had indeed tried to impede the investigation, but was unsuccessful. And that, two: Trump tried to have Mueller removed from the investigation.
On at least ten occasions, President Trump came close to obstructing justice very clearly. Only because of his aides did these actions not get done, resulting in less evidence directly against Trump. During the investigation Trump met with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and they composed a message to ex-Attorney General Sessions telling him to declare the investigation had been “very unfair” to Trump. Lewandowski handed the task of delivering the message to Deputy Chief of Staff Dearborn, who felt too uncomfortable to actually deliver the note.
In order to save time, Mueller decided not to subpoena the President, stating that he wanted the process to move as fast as possible. But where the committee asked Trump to send in written explanations (because a physical subpoena would add much effort and time to the process), the statements were, on many occasions, vague and nonspecific; Trump claimed many times to not remember the event about thirty times, which Mueller referenced to as “inadequate."
There are more examples. After Michael Flynn left his National Security Advisor office, Trump asked Comey, FBI head, for “loyalty” and to stop investigating Flynn for misleading top FBI officials and other ranking members of the White House. After Sessions declined to helm the promotion of a Special Counsel, the President, angry, asked Sessions to “un-recuse himself” (a request that would be repeated again, later into the investigation, accompanied by a request a few months later for Sessions to investigate Clinton).
Trump called the FBI director twice to ask him to dispel scrutiny into Trump-Russia collusion, and contacted NSA and CIA sources to try and promote the same thing. When Mueller was reported to be the selected Counsel for the investigation, Trump asked for Sessions’s resignation, said this was “the end of” his presidency, and then asked to remove Mueller from the case for “conflicts of interest”—a request that was, again, unfulfilled. Throughout, Trump attempted to secure loyalty from multiple aides, including Manafort, Flynn, and Comey.
Apart from justice obstruction, the report revealed a little about Trump’s alleged connections with Russia. Mueller concluded that Trump, for the most part, did not seek out Russian entanglements, but the report seems to point to the fact that Trump viewed Russian involvement as advantageous to the campaign. Russians never originally targeted the Clinton 2016 campaign, but as part of a project to disrupt American unity, their attacks morphed into Clinton-centered attention.
Trump “showed interest” in the Clinton emails, at one point during a press conference asking Russia to hack them—and after, he asked aides to get the emails for him. Most of the report suggests that he appreciated the negative effect on the other Presidential nominee, and actively supported the Russian sabotage of Democratic activities.
The facts that the Mueller Report made available to the public caused a day of national discussion. The subjects of federal power balances, the 2020 election, national security, and corruption all have been mulled over, and the general public was exposed to a historic day of political action. The report can be considered a window into the operations of the White House and on power balance, and exposes truths: negative or positive implications for the future of the United States. Questions still remain. Even though the report is out, this discussion remains far from over. Attorney General Barr will meet with the House Judiciary Committee (a meeting he has threatened to cancel), and Mueller himself will be questioned in the future. Whatever happens—if anything—is up to debate, and up to the leaders of the nation.