Russia Probe

What's Really in the Mueller Report

Mueller won't decide on obstruction charges, but a close read reveals he likely thinks there's something there.

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While preparing the public for the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report this morning, Attorney General William Barr noted that Mueller examined 10 separate instances where President Donald Trump might have potentially obstructed the investigation.

Mueller ultimately decided not to decide whether Trump had actually attempted to obstruct, and Barr has concluded that Trump's behavior was not enough to justify obstruction charges.

But the minute Barr noted that Mueller had flagged 10 separate instances, that became the news hook for the day. Since Mueller did not draw a conclusion on obstruction, what does the report say?

Mueller explains from the start of the report's obstruction section—an entire volume of the overall report—that he would not come to a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" about Trump because he'd accepted the Office of Legal Counsel's conclusion that "the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions." But Mueller does say that investigating a president for potential illegal conduct is itself permitted.

Mueller then adds that if he were confident that Trump did not obstruct the investigation, he would clearly say so. "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

Here are the 10 cases that Mueller explored.

1. How Trump behaved during the investigation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn ended up resigning from the administration after admitting he had lied to officials when he said he hadn't discussed with Russian officials the easing of sanctions that President Barack Obama's administration had put into place as a response to evidence of election meddling. Flynn had, in fact, discussed this issue with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in order to discourage Russia from retaliating over the sanctions. Flynn then reportedly lied to FBI investigators about the conversation.

When the Washington Post reported on the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak in January 2017, Trump angrily called Reince Priebus, who was coming in as his chief of staff. Flynn said he was then pressured to try to get the whole story killed. Flynn's deputy contacted the Post to deny the conversation happened, even though she knew the story was true. Several Trump officials denied that sanctions were discussed during the discussions. This series of events alarmed the Justice Department because they had already been investigating ties between Flynn and Russia, and they worried that Russian officials could prove the conversations happened and therefore compromise Flynn by threatening to expose him.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn was lying about the nature of his discussions with Kislyak and that the administration was inadvertently passing along the lies.

Trump subsequently forced Flynn's resignation. Trump then pulled then-FBI Director James Comey aside for a private conversation where he reportedly said to Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, letting Flynn go," rather than charging him for his false statements.

In Mueller's analysis, he notes that Trump then publicly denied asking Comey to let Flynn go, but he finds evidence to corroborate Comey's account. He then analyzes whether this statement as a "hope" or an actual request, which is how Comey says he took it. Mueller agrees that Comey saw this as a directive.

But was this obstruction? Mueller observes that Trump went through the effort to talk to Comey alone, against advice from the White House attorney who told Trump not to speak directly to Justice Department officials by himself so as not to appear as if he was attempting to influence the investigation. Then Trump denied he had made the request, something he wouldn't have needed to do had he believed that his request was appropriate.

We're left hanging about whether Mueller sees this as obstruction. It's clear he sees the behavior as inappropriate and strange, but we don't know whether he thinks it was illegal.

2. How Trump responded to the announcement of the FBI investigation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal.

After the special investigation was announced in March 2017, Sessions recused himself due to his participation in Trump's campaign. This infuriated Trump, who wanted Sessions to "unrecuse" himself. Trump contacted Comey and other intelligence leaders to ask them to state publicly that Trump was not connected to Russian election interference.

Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation due to his ties to Trump's campaign and also because it turned out he had not disclosed his own meetings with Kislyak during his confirmation hearings. Trump, through his White House counsel, kept trying to get Sessions not to recuse himself. Sessions did anyway. According to Mueller's report, Sessions believed Trump was worried that the investigation "could spin out of control and disrupt his ability to govern" if Sessions were not leading it.

When Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee the existence of the investigation of Russia's involvement in the election, Comey specifically made sure not to state who was being investigated. He also declined to answer when asked if Trump was under investigation. This led some press outlets to suggest that maybe Trump was under investigation, and this made Trump angry at Comey. Trump pushed then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to try to intervene with the Justice Department and ask if there was a way to speed up the investigation. It was at this point that McGahn's office began looking into whether Trump needed to have cause in order to fire Comey.

On several occasions following Comey's testimony, Trump asked officials in his administration to put out the word that he was not under investigation and that there was no link between him and Russia's election interference. He asked Comey if anything could be done to "lift the cloud" over the presidency being caused by the investigation.

Does all this count as obstruction? After looking at all over, Mueller notes that, unlike the Flynn situation, people that Trump spoke to said that it didn't feel as though they were being given directives to interfere with the investigation. Here Mueller concludes that Trump's behavior was influenced by his anger and frustration that the investigation was interfering with his ability to govern and would detract from his accomplishments. All of that is to say, here it appears as though Mueller doesn't see Trump's actions as directly trying to interfere with the investigation itself.

3. The firing of FBI Director James Comey

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, formally citing Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of private servers as Secretary of State. But he privately admitted that the termination was at least in part due to the way the Russian investigation was going, and he told the Russian foreign minister exactly that, saying that he thought it would take the pressure off.

Was firing Comey obstruction of justice? In Mueller's analysis, firing Comey could have been obstruction if it had the actual effect of ending the investigation. But it didn't, and Trump was told before firing Comey that it wouldn't stop the investigation from continuing.

Mueller notes that it's obvious that Trump's termination of Comey had nothing to do with his handling of Clinton's case, and most telling was the fact that Trump ordered the termination letter to include a sentence that Comey had on three separate occasions told Trump he wasn't under investigation. While Trump was again somewhat acting out of frustration that the investigation was interfering with his ability to do his work, there was evidence that Trump was concerned about the investigation into the campaign.

Here's an important note from Mueller: "[T]he evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns."

There's also a short section in this part of the report that's redacted due to an ongoing investigation of the Trump Tower negotiations. Considering that there are actually very few redactions in this part of the report, that's worth noting.

4. Trump's alleged attempt to end the special investigation and get rid of Mueller

In June 2017, following media reports that Trump was being investigated for obstruction, Trump tried to get White House Counsel McGahn to have Mueller removed. McGahn didn't do so and instead prepared a resignation letter.

When Trump found out that a special counsel had been appointed he reportedly freaked out and said it would be the end of his presidency, and blamed Sessions. Sessions submitted his letter of resignation, but Trump convinced him to stay on.

Trump then tried to argue that Mueller had conflicts of interest because he had previously interviewed for FBI director. Noted Trump whisperer Steve Bannon thought the idea that Mueller had conflicts of interest "ridiculous." McGahn warned Trump that attempting to get rid of Mueller would be another argument used to claim he was obstructing the investigation.

Regardless, Trump ignored his advisors after the Washington Post reported that Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction, and asked McGahn to have Mueller removed. McGahn was not willing to do so and decided he'd have to resign. Priebus and Bannon convinced him not to.

So what does Mueller himself think of Trump trying to fire him? Is it obstruction? Much as with Comey's firing, Muller notes that removing him wouldn't necessarily mean the end of the special investigation, but a factfinder would have to determine whether doing so would have a chilling effect on his replacement.

Mueller also notes that Trump's sense of urgency to have him removed, particularly after reading that he might be a target of an obstruction investigation, made a lie out of Trump's claims that he was concerned about conflicts of interest, because he could have sought out an ethical evaluation rather than immediately on a weekend try to have Mueller removed.

Mueller adds that by this point in the investigation, Trump had been warned repeatedly that contacting the Justice Department would feed the obstruction investigation. Mueller bluntly notes, "The evidence indicates that news of the obstruction investigation prompted the president to call McGahn and seek to have the Special Counsel removed." He adds that Trump likely knew that it was wrong to ask McGahn to take this action because McGahn already told him the White House could not be involved with this. And then Trump subsequently denied ever telling McGahn to remove Mueller and tried to get McGahn to deny the story.

So once again, here, without actually saying obstruction happened, Mueller wants the reader to clearly understand that he believes Trump tried to have him removed in order to stop the investigation because Trump knew he himself was a target of the investigation.

5. Trump's attempt to affect the scope of the special counsel investigation

Just days after the failed effort to have Mueller removed, Trump had Corey Lewandowski deliver a message to then-Attorney General Session asking him to limit the scope of the special investigation to the subject of making sure Russia didn't meddle in future elections.

Trump wanted Sessions to give a speech explaining that Trump was being treated unfairly and shouldn't be the subject of a special counsel investigation because he hadn't done anything wrong.

At the time, Lewandowski failed to deliver the message due to scheduling conflicts. By July of 2017, it became public knowledge that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and others had met with Russian lobbyists in June 2016. Trump pushed again for Lewandowski to deliver the message to Sessions. Lewandowski handed it off to White House official Rick Dearborn to pass along. According to Mueller's report, Dearborn said the message "raised an eyebrow" and being asked to pass it along to Sessions made him uncomfortable, so he didn't.

A few days later the Washington Post reported that Sessions had discussed campaign matters with Russian officials, and this prompted Trump to again consider firing him. He told Priebus to demand Sessions' resignation. Priebus warned that he might not be able to get a replacement through the Senate. Priebus and McGahn discussed again the possibility of resigning rather than carrying out Trump's orders. Eventually, Priebus convinced Trump not to demand Sessions' resignation, but then Trump began to tweet comments critical of Sessions.

Was this obstruction? Mueller notes that Trump was still trying to get Sessions to "unrecuse" himself and take control over what the investigation's scope. Mueller says that these "directives indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the Special Counsel to end the existing investigation of the president and his campaign."

Again in this example, without saying "this is obstruction," Mueller outright states that the evidence shows here that Trump was attempting to prevent further scrutiny of his conduct. Mueller observes that trying to use Lewandowski to quietly pass a message along to Sessions rather than going through official communication channels demonstrates his intent to bypass people like McGahn who had been urging him to stop trying to meddle with the Justice Department's work.

6. Trump's involvement in efforts to prevent disclosure of emails about the Trump Tower meeting and Russian lobbyists

In response to initial reports that Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, and others had met with Russian lobbyists in Trump Tower, Trump's campaign said it was a meeting about Russian adoption rules. A lot more happened in that meeting: The most notable of which was that Trump's team had been told that the Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Trump played a role in crafting initial statements about what happened at the meeting in explanations to the press, deliberately concealing the full nature of the discussion and preparing his son's statement.

Here, Mueller notes that the lies were being told to the press, not Congressional investigators or to Mueller's team. Trump apparently made no effort to keep emails about the true nature of the meeting out of the hands of investigators. In this case, Mueller makes it clear that he doesn't see evidence of obstruction. They were trying to keep the information from getting into the hands of the press, sure, but not investigators.

7. Trump repeatedly tried to get Sessions to unrecuse himself before firing him

As 2017 went on, Trump complained to Sessions that the Department of Justice wasn't investigating who he thought they should be investigating, by which he meant Clinton's private server use. He urged Sessions to look at her and then started tweeting that Comey's letter exonerating Clinton happened before the investigation was complete.

For months, Trump would attack Sessions in tweets and interviews for recusing himself. Then, the day after the midterm elections in November 2018, Trump dumped Sessions.

In his analysis, Mueller notes that evidence shows that part of Trump's intent to get Sessions to unrecuse himself was his belief that Sessions would limit the scope of the investigation to protect Trump. Trump was aware at this point that the investigation included him and his son.

8. Trump ordered McGahn to lie about his attempts to fire Mueller

Trump's failed effort to remove Mueller was uncovered by The New York Times in January 2018. Trump several times tried to convince McGahn to publicly deny that the story was true. McGahn refused each request.

Here, Mueller's analysis notes that Trump disputes McGahn's characterization of his request. Trump says he didn't say the word "fire." But McGahn insisted that the stories were accurate when they said Trump ordered him to have Mueller fired.

At this point, Mueller's grand jury had brought back several indictments, and Mueller notes that the president had received a list of topics Mueller's office wanted to discuss in a potential interview. Obstruction was among them. Trump also knew that McGahn had already been interviewed by Muller's team and had told them about the attempt to remove Mueller.

Here Mueller concludes that "substantial evidence" indicates that Trump's urging here for McGahn to dispute the story was intended as an attempt to influence McGahn in "in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President's conduct towards the investigation."

9. The president's conduct toward Flynn, Manafort, and [Redacted]

In this section, Mueller notes Trump's differing treatment of those who have been caught up in Mueller's investigation based on how loyal they are to him and whether that counts as obstruction.

Flynn initially received supportive comments from Trump until he ended a joint defense agreement with Trump's team and started cooperating with the government. Trump raised the possibility of a pardon for Manafort and made it clear he felt the man was being treated unfairly by the government over his fraud convictions.

There is an entire section of this part of the report about a third person that is entirely redacted. I'm not inclined to speculate.

Mueller notes that there's evidence that Trump's public comments are intended to encourage Manafort not to cooperate with the investigation and that Trump raised the possibility of a pardon as a way of influencing his behavior. But he also notes that it's possible Trump genuinely felt bad for Manafort and he was trying to influence public opinion, not necessarily Manafort or a jury.

10. Trump's treatment of Michael Cohen

Trump's former personal attorney, who has turned against him, gets his own section in the obstruction volume. Cohen was part of the team pursuing the Moscow Trump Tower project for the Trump organization, insisted that the organization didn't have any business in Russia when they were still negotiating, and when Cohen's lies were uncovered, Trump said publicly that Cohen wouldn't "flip" and passed along private messages of support. Cohen also said he thought he'd get a pardon from the president if he remained "on message."

Then Cohen began cooperating with the government and all hell broke loose. The media found out that Cohen had a recording of a conversation with him and Trump arranging to pay off a woman Trump had an affair with to keep her mouth shut. This was the second case, and Cohen would eventually plead guilty to campaign finance violations for these payoffs.

Trump and Cohen turned on each other. Trump started publicly making comments that implied that Cohen's family members were also involved in crimes. Trump said that Cohen had turned rat to get his sentence reduced and suggested that Cohen's father-in-law had done something wrong. This prompted Cohen to postpone testimony before Congress (though he did eventually testify.)

In Mueller's analysis, he explores both whether Trump encouraged Cohen to provide the false testimony to Congress that led to him being charged, and whether Trump took actions that would otherwise stop Cohen from testifying truthfully.

Mueller says that, while it's likely Trump knew Cohen lied to Congress, he could not establish that Cohen did so at Trump's request. Cohen has said that he believed that Trump wanted him to lie to Congress that negotiations to build a hotel in Russia ended before the campaign began, but Mueller isn't so sure.

As for Trump's treatment of Cohen abruptly changing after he started cooperating with investigators, Mueller notes that the inference here is that Trump gives off positive messages to those who refuse to cooperate with the government and "then turns to attacks and intimidation" to either deter or undermine the credibility of those who assist.

In Mueller's analysis of Trump's intent here, he is clear that he sees evidence that would support a claim that Trump's treatment of Cohen is deliberately intended to discourage him from cooperating with the government precisely because it would "shed adverse light" on the president's conduct during the campaign.

In the end, while Mueller will not specifically say that Trump did or did not engage in obstruction, what he has written in this report is most certainly intended to direct us to look at a trend of behavior designed specifically to either bring the investigation to a halt or to stop the people around him from cooperating with investigators.

And it does leave you to wonder what Mueller would conclude had he not decided from the start that he was not going to make a traditional prosecutorial decision about whether Trump had engaged in obstruction if Trump were not the president.

All of which is to say: This report really reads as though Mueller believes that Trump engaged in obstruction.

NEXT: Middlebury College Disinvites Polish Politician Ryszard Legutko, Fails Free Speech Test Yet Again

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  1. If i had time I could argue each of these as silly. but there are more commentors who are far better at it than i am. BTW its not illegal or obstruction for anyone who is being investigate to try to steer that investigation. this is really weak stuff.

    1. How can it not be obstruction to try to steer an investigation away from material or person who could implicate you in a crime. The fact is that President Trump thought he was near enough to a crime that he tried to obstruct the investigation. He benefits from the fact he has a sympathetic jury in the Senate and so can avoid conviction.

      1. There was no one who could implicate Trump in a crime, because there was no crime.

        1. Exactly. Is it wrong to steer investigators away from someone who could implicate you in something legal? It’s ridiculous. Of course, the definition of obstruction was written to favor the government prosecutor, though.

      2. The people Trump wanted to fire had multiple reasons to be fired after the Hillary cover up. There is no way to know Trump’s intent when he wanted to fire Comey and Mueller. Without intent, there can be no obstruction.

        1. His intent doesnt matter, hebhas the constitutional right to fire members of his organization. Idiots dont remember, but Nixon was given obstruction charges doe telling secret service members to lie to investigators. He was not given obstruction charges on the Saturday night firings.

      3. Something never said about Gerald Walpin.

      4. When a person states they are not guilty, they are steering investigations away from their primary investigations. When a defendant provides other possible actors that may have committed a crime or even argued that it was a non crime, they are steering investigations away.

        You, and the idiots in the media, are basically arguing Trump wasnt allowed to provide a defense (see media harping on Trump refusing an in person interview).

        You want to turn the rights of citizens on its head. So go fuck yourself.

        1. Get an education, you bigoted slack-jaw.

          Or, better yet, stay ignorant, so it’s easier for liberals and libertarians to continue to beat you in the battle to shape American progress.

          1. Kill yourself. Or better yet, the next time you see your mother, punch her in the tit for not aborting you when she had the chance.

      5. No, Trump did not think he was near enough to a crime! Trump knew there was no crime (collusion), but Trump thought they were going to pin that on him anyways! Even having said that, these things laid out here do not even come close to Obstruction!
        Bottom LIne: Horse-Face Mueller is another Trump Hater who does not want to exonerate him & wants to see him taken down, so he ignores his responsibility & left it hanging there so they could keep this alive!

    2. Agree. If Trump explicitly told someone to lie it could be witness tampering. All else is merely trying to steer the witch hunt away. F Mueller.

      1. He told Don McGahn to lie.

        1. 1) We don’t know that.

          2) Lying to the press is not a crime you insufferable retard.

          1. I love it. This is perfect. All three stages of Trump shilling in one succinct post:
            1. Denial of the offense
            2. Admission of the offense, but it’s legal so shut up
            3. Gratuitous insult

            1. Or it could just be two independent reasons why you’re wrong… and a gratuitous insult.

            2. Or those could be two mutually exclusive points…

            3. I’d say the insult was entirely ungratuitous, because you clearly earned it.

              Unless, in your ingonrance, you are entirely unfamiliar with the concept of arguendo.

              And given that you have the demeanor of a poorly reared teenager, that is in the realm of possibilities.

            4. Lying to the media isnt a crime fucktard Jeff. How is that admission of an offense?

              1. Mueller wasn’t sure if it was an offense, else he would have clearly said so and possibly charged accordingly.

        2. Trump disagreed with the characterization of the request.

          Trump might be guilty of a process crime, but what does that ultimately prove? As Barr noted, Trump acted on his belief that the whole probe was an unethical witch hunt and Trump apparently thought the Meuller’s appointment posed some ethical conflict of interest. Trump tried to remove Mueller because he thought the man was unfit, at least in his own mind. That’s not criminal.

          Trump probably tried to convince others to dismiss Mueller on his behalf, because he caught a lot of heat for firing Comey himself. It’s clumsy thing to do. Proof of obstruction, probably not so much.

          If Mueller couldn’t prove collusion, how could he possibly prove obstruction? They require similar standard of proof. Trump ultimately did nothing to meaningfully impeded the investigation.

          1. Well, “collusion” isn’t an actual crime. I suppose what he was really looking for was a criminal conspiracy. That was always some far-fetched idea, I agree.

            As Barr noted, Trump acted on his belief that the whole probe was an unethical witch hunt and Trump apparently thought the Meuller’s appointment posed some ethical conflict of interest. Trump tried to remove Mueller because he thought the man was unfit, at least in his own mind. That’s not criminal.

            But here is the problem. What if the claims of “conflict of interest” were just a pretext? After all even Steve Bannon thought that the claims of conflict of interest w.r.t. Mueller were ridiculous. Then it would be a much more serious matter. Don McGahn didn’t want to have a part in firing Mueller because he didn’t want to have a part in what he thought would be another Saturday Night Massacre. That doesn’t sound like a guy who is trying to alleviate Mueller’s conflict of interest.

            1. So you admit that the crime having actually been committed was a far-fetched idea, yet you’re still upset that they didn’t bring Trump down? Are you really ok with the government pursuing far-fetched crimes just on the hope that they can induce a process crime?

              1. I believe people in positions of power should be held to higher standards than your normal average ordinary guy.
                I think that a president being held to the standard of “well at least he didn’t break the law” is not particularly praiseworthy, nor should be celebrated.
                I think that a president should be scrupulous in using his power wisely and not be reckless and undisciplined, even if, in his recklessness, he barely avoids breaking the law. Again that is too low of a standard for a person with that much power.
                I don’t think that this position represents shilling for either tribe, frankly. Do you?

                1. I don’t think anyone is praising or celebrating how the President handled the Mueller investigation. They may be doing so over the fact that a man who committed no crime has escaped prosecution. We should all celebrate that. I don’t care for the president or how he handles himself, but elections have consequences. Other people with power shouldn’t use criminal investigations to try to “fix” things. Basically, your arguments works against the people who started this investigation, just as it works against Trump.

                  1. Oh come on. Don’t go there with the whole ATTEMPTED COUP stuff. That is just Trump’s way to try to delegitimize the investigation and we shouldn’t fall for his narrative.

                    1. The while beginning if the crime was based on cryptic legal theory never before used. The fact that they went after Flynn for a non crime. The dossier. The criminalization of trump constitutionally firing people in the executive branch.

                      Add this to the leaking of classified phone calls of trump and foreign leaders. Sally Yates actively defying the Presidents orders. The whole resistance.

                      You have to be fucking stupid, or named Jeff, to believe there wasnt an effort to undermine and possibly remove the president through illicit means.

                      You’re too dumb to even recognize.the disparate treatments between Clinton and trump. You literally are stupidly applauding disparate treatment based on political connections. And you wonder why people think you’re an authoritarian asshole?

                    2. Steele testified in a UK court that the purpose of the dossier was so Hillary could contest the election. The FBI assisted Steele with the document. The dossier was used in a secret court for the purpose of getting the OK to spy on Trump. Sure the target was Page, but they knew Trump was talking to Page so Trump would be one hop in the link analysis which gives them access to Trump.

                      I don’t know if that rises to the level of a coup, but there is evidence of attempting to delegitimize and remove a sitting president by . Steele’s statement regarding the purpose of his dossier alone is worth further questioning.

                    3. There goes Jesse with his Galloping Gish, trying to throw all sorts of sand in the air without actually addressing anything of substance.

                      The investigation was triggered by Papadoupoulous’s drunk ass blabbing to the Australians. Even Nunes said so. Not the damn dossier.

                      And the investigation was widened when Trump fired Comey *because* Comey’s FBI was investigating Trump. Yeah I think it’s right and proper that a few eyebrows were raised when the target of an investigation exercises his political authority to fire the guy in charge of the investigation. That’s literally Nixon-level shit right there.

                      None of that other crap matters in the context of the Mueller investigation. It only matters if you want to push the DEEP STATE COUP narrative that Trump wants you to push so that you rally to his tribe.

                    4. And you wonder why people think you’re an authoritarian asshole?

                      I’m not the one around here shilling for the Authoritarian-In-Chief. That would be you, Jesse-poo.

                    5. The former president’s FISA warrent to spy on the current President’s campaign was issued based on the dossier.

                2. “well at least he didn’t break the law” is not particularly praiseworthy, nor should be celebrated.” Is this the standard you want to live by??? This is the most hairbrained thing I’ve read in a while. So you really want following the law to be the lowest level of behavior above which are your mysterious unwritten standards?

            2. “Well, “collusion” isn’t an actual crime.”

              Funny how folks like me were kooks for saying that TWO FUCKING YEARS AGO.

          2. Using this logic, any Reason article condemning police over-reaction to anything is an attempt to obstruct justice.

    3. Seriously. Trump could have said, Mueller is wasting money, I don’t think it is good for the country, so I’m firing him and the entire investigation is now closed. Putting aside most of the legal theories are bunk, and nothing actually happened, even if Trump did everything he thought about doing, it wouldn’t be obstruction without corrupt intent. The case would get thrown out pre-trial and it would be bad-faith to bring it.

      1. Huh? My understanding is that intent has no bearing on whether or not you are guilty of a crime (unless you are Hillary Clinton).

    4. None of this stuff is “weak”. It shows what a shitty president we have. A real President would have recused himself because he wouldn’t have tried to sell our government to the Russias or make deals with them to promote propaganda.

      1. Then I guess you’re glad Hillary isn’t the real President.

      2. A real president would have never let the investigation start by politicizing the AG and DoJ. See Clinton and Obama.

        1. I believe some FBI agents testified to congress that AG Lynch calling the investigation into Clinton a “matter” was demoralizing their investigation because Lynch was clearly signaling she was not going to charge regardless of the outcome. FBI agent Strzok changed the wording of the final report to keep Clinton from being indicted.

          That’s a more clearer picture of obstruction than what Mueller found with Trump.

          1. Its a total betrayal of our nation and a clear confirmation that some Americans are above the law.

  2. love today’s montage…

    1. It’s Never Trump Day here at Hit n Run!

  3. GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

    1. Yes, we know that is how you judge the feathered citizens of SIVistan. And the punishment is always the same after your cloaca and dagger investigation.

  4. Trump fired Comey to protect himself from scrutiny.

    1. Comey followed Lynch’s instructions rather than indict Hillary. Lost all credibility at that moment.

      1. After the Lynch/Bubba tarmac meet.

    2. The FBI director scrutinizing the President is a damn good reason for a firing.

    3. Comey had shown himself to be a highly partisan democrat operative and liar and leaker–plenty of reason to fire him. At the time, the official reason for Mueller was about Russia, not about Trump and Comey had told Trump that Trump was not under investigation. How could it be obstruction if Trump was told he was not under investigation?

    4. Trump fired comey because comey is a) incompetent (see Democrats calls for his firing prior to him being fired) and b) kept telling trump he was not under investigation while he was investigating him (ie lying to his boss).

  5. Imagine if the entire media and entertainment industry covered the Benghazi investigation like Fox News did. That is the Russia investigation. The biggest difference is that nobody died in this one.

    1. Hillary Clinton sat and answered Congressional questions on two occasions. In one case for a total of 11 hours. Could President Trump do the same?

      1. In theory, he could. It would be hilarious. I don’t think we’d learn much more than we would learn from a deep dive into his tweets, though.

      2. I think a decent chunk of the country would pay-per-view the hell out of that.

        And her testimony amounted to “Yeah it happened, so fucking what?”.

      3. Hillary’s team all got immunity from the DOJ early on in the classified email scandal, could her defense have survived without those?

      4. “”In one case for a total of 11 hours.”‘

        How many times did she say I don’t recall in that time?

  6. TLDR. Is Shackford the One True Libertarian?

    1. Of course not! True Libertarians should be ecstatic that Trump evidently cleared the very low bar of not actually breaking the law even if he did try to influence the outcome of the investigation and lie to the public about it.

      1. Not every politician has the purity and virtue of Barack of Kenya Chicago Honolulu.

      2. Now do Gerald Walpin.

      3. People are praising the end of an investigation into a non crime… and you are upset asshole Jeff.

    2. This is the important part for libertarians:

      Mueller explains from the start of the report’s obstruction section—an entire volume of the overall report—that he would not come to a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” about Trump because he’d accepted the Office of Legal Counsel’s conclusion that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”

      The State and its worker ants protect themselves at all costs.

      1. The OLC’s reasoning is Constitutionally sound. When dealing with otherwise prosecutable criminal acts of a sitting President the process must be impeachment and removal from office then criminal prosecution.

  7. It cannot be obstruction of justice to oppose a fraudulent investigation.
    In order to obstruct justice, there must be some underlying crime which begs for justice.
    Without such a crime, there is no justice to obstruct.

      1. So chem explain just one of those examples which is meaningful in the context of a fraudulent investigation? Just one.

        1. Define what you mean by “fraudulent investigation”.

          1. An investigation into accusations which are known to be false.

            1. So it’s your contention that, back in early 2017, Sessions, Rosenstein, etc., all knew that the claim of Russian meddling in the election was false, and they decided to authorize the investigation anyway?

              1. Duh

                1. Yeah, that’s a little hard to believe.

              2. So it’s your contention that, back in early 2017, Sessions, Rosenstein, etc., all knew that the claim of Russian meddling in the election was false, and they decided to authorize the investigation anyway?
                There is no alternative way to analyze the evidence we’ve seen.

                1. Not sure what Sessions knew, but Rosenstein and Comey sure knew.

                  1. They did? How do you know?

                2. There is no alternative way to analyze the evidence we’ve seen.

                  How about in a straightforward, Occam’s-Razor, non-conspiratorial manner? That is, they believed at the time what the intelligence services were saying about the extent of Russian interference in the election, and launched a broad inquiry on that basis.

                  1. Comey was in charge of the operation which procured the fake dossier, and then tried to use it to leverage some real dirt on Trump.

                    There’s no real way to dispute that.

                    1. No, that isn’t accurate.
                      My understanding was that Christopher Steele was essentially a consultant for the FBI, not that the FBI itself was in charge of Steele’s operations.
                      Furthermore, Rosenstein authorized the investigation, with Sessions’ apparent blessing, not Comey.
                      So where does Rosenstein fit into this conspiracy?

                    2. My understanding was that Christopher Steele was essentially a consultant for the FBI, not that the FBI itself was in charge of Steele’s operations.

                      The FBI procured the dossier, knowing full well that it was bogus. They had plans to leverage it.

                      Furthermore, Rosenstein authorized the investigation, with Sessions’ apparent blessing, not Comey.

                      Rosenstein authorized the special counsel, after Comey was fired. Sessions had recused himself.
                      So where does Rosenstein fit into this conspiracy?
                      If Trump can be taken down, regardless of cause, foul deeds at the DOJ /FBI/CIA/NSA remain covered up.

                    3. The FBI procured the dossier, knowing full well that it was bogus. They had plans to leverage it.

                      That’s going pretty far into conspiracy territory.

                      If Trump can be taken down, regardless of cause, foul deeds at the DOJ /FBI/CIA/NSA remain covered up.

                      So do you have any affirmative evidence for this claim, and not just circular conspiratorial nonsense?

                    4. So do you have any affirmative evidence for this claim, and not just circular conspiratorial nonsense?

                      We know they did it.
                      Agreed, the “why” they did it is a bit adding up pieces, and less concrete.
                      It is an irrefutable fact that Rosenstein/Comey knew the Russian collusion accusation to be fraudulent in early 2017. As to why they didn’t just let it drop, I suspect that time will yield more detailed insight.

                    5. It is an irrefutable fact that Rosenstein/Comey knew the Russian collusion accusation to be fraudulent in early 2017.

                      Source?

                    6. “”My understanding was that Christopher Steele was essentially a consultant for the FBI””

                      They didn’t pay him. But Steele testified the Hillary camp did and also testified that the reason was to contest the election. Contest an election.

                      Article

                    7. There is a link in the article to the court document. Steele’s response to item 4 is what I am referring to.

              3. You, yourself admitted that it was always “far-fetched” on a different sub-thread here.

                1. Based on information that we NOW know, yes.
                  AT THE TIME, I don’t think it was. And it certainly wasn’t according to the official decision-makers.

                  1. Based on information that we NOW know, yes.
                    AT THE TIME, I don’t think it was. And it certainly wasn’t according to the official decision-makers.

                    There is no information regarding Russian collusion available to us now which was not avilable to Comey and Rosenstein in early 2017.
                    They knew it to be fraud.
                    What they didn’t know was that Trump didn’t have anything ELSE they could use to take him down.

                    1. They knew it to be fraud.

                      This is tinfoil hat territory.

                    2. The leaked accusations came from the DOJ/FBI/CIA.
                      The ones who knew there was no real evidence.
                      Then they recycled press reports of the leaks as evidence.
                      These people that you think might not have known, they were the few who really did know. And they knew it to be a fraud.

                    3. The leaked accusations came from the DOJ/FBI/CIA.
                      The ones who knew there was no real evidence.

                      The Deep State, right?

                      Are you Lou Dobbs?

                    4. You’re gonna have to provide some actual evidence for your claims.

                    5. The obvious interpretation is usually correct.

                    6. Whatever you say, Lou.

                    7. I love how ignorant Jeff is. He ignores all the surrounding behaviors of the IC believing the investigation just. He ignore Yates openly defying her president’s orders. She ignores the IC leaking trump communications with foreign leaders. He ignores the IC spying and disseminating Flynns conversations. He ignores Susan Rice openly admitting they were trying to declassify everything trump related and spread it among the community so it could get out. But no… to Jeff this was all open and honest. Jeff is fucking stupid.

              4. I mean, it was patently obvious to most of the people that post here, but then we are a bunch of conspiracy theorist and malcontents.

                1. In baby Jefferies world, there was zero animus in the government against trump.

    1. President Trump was worried enough about a crime that he attempted to obstruct the investigation. If he was innocent why did he do that? Consider this: A man is driving after dark when he see police lights behind him. He pulls over, opens his wallet remove the drivers license and a $50 dollar bill. When the officer approaches his car he hand the officer his license with the $50 dollars. The officer smiles and tell the man he stopped him to tell him the bridge ahead has collapsed. Is there a crime here?

      1. So far, no evidence of any crime, so no.

        1. There would be such evidence if the driver actually offered the $50 to the police officer in exchange for special treatment.

          1. How do you prove intent to obtain special treatment? The driver didn’t even know why he was stopped so he had no way to know what sort of ‘special treatment’ was to be had.

      2. You left out the crucial detail: Was the $50 still in his wallet when he got it back?

  8. I Wasted 20 minutes to just see some authors opinion that is speculation…Reason is not like what it used to be…

    1. Ben Shapiro has a much more interesting/reasonable take-a-way:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGDWPGK4-zY

      And I’d agree, Reason has not faired well in the age of Trump.

  9. So nothing changes? Democrats still think he’s guilty, Republicans don’t. Talking heads keep talking about TrumpRussia. What a waste of time, money, and energy.

    1. It’s not a waste if you get to own the tards on the other side and strengthen your sense of self-righteousness.

      1. Deflecting from the stark reality of NO COLLUSION by straw-manning any acknowledgement of that as empty hyper-partisanship?

  10. Mueller knew the Russian thing was a fraud within two days of beginning the investigation.
    And yet, he continued on. Not with any hope of finding any collusion, people had told him the truth about that.
    But he hoped he could find something else. He knew that some of the people were sleazeballs, and he knew that he could squeeze them by the balls and make them talk. So there was hope of turning up something else.
    Mueller wanted to take Trump down, probably more for his own ego than because he really believed Orange Man Bad.
    In the end we have to give Mueller credit for being unwilling to foist a massive fraud upon the country.

    1. don’t forget Muller kept the investigation going to last through an election. now thats real election tampering.

  11. Yeah, what prosecutors think is probably there. That’s important for some reason. I don’t know the reason, but . . . how can you argue with that logic.

    Preet Bahara’s replacement is on line two.

  12. Surely Trump must be guilty of something.

    ====
    Here’s what I found….

    David Bowie, Sly Stallone, Cher and even Donald Trump couldn’t get enough of nightclub Studio 54

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhvYgmvn3Zw

    History shows that the Studio 54 crowd was sniffing cocaine and having public sex.
    Surely these are crimes and if Trump was there he is just as guilty.

    Why didn’t Mueller look into these crimes?

  13. Prediction: When Trump is out of office (be it in 2021 or 2025), no one with the authority to do so will make the slightest effort to prosecute him for any of this purported obstruction.

    This is all politics.

  14. Two plus years of “collusion!!!!”, nada.

    Now its “obstruction!!!!”

    Good luck with that pivot.

  15. They couldn’t prove he obstructed, but if he had, then even if he was innocent of the underlying charge (Russia!), it would still be indictable (at least for a non-President).

    But for impeachment purposes, even if they could prove he obstructed, then the fact that the underlying investigation which he obstructed was bogus reminds us of Clinton’s defense in his *successful* defense against impeachment.

    Recall that not only did Clinton lie in a deposition about his sex life, he had authorized those sorts of depositions by signing the bill with the Molinari Amendment (or put it more accurately – without the Molinari Amendment, it’s hard to see the deposition occurring at all).

    So a President signs a law subjecting the little people to be examined on their sexual behavior, but he doesn’t think he’s one of the little people so he lies about it, which he would certainly have punished a little person for doing.

    Yet it wasn’t enough to get even a majority for conviction, much less the needed 2/3.

    Now, Trump tells his people to hinder an investigation into a noncrime, his people disobey, and that’s worse than Clinton? Or are they now admitting Clinton should have been convicted?

  16. What a load of crap. Mueller’s task wasn’t to exonerate Trump. What he said is prosecutorial misconduct. If you don’t have the facts to indict you say nothing.

    1. Unless you have a team of a couple-dozen high powered and high priced lawyers who are firmly on Team Clinton and you have to toss them a bone.

  17. Look, we need something to justify two years of Rachel Maddow’s laughable coverage. It can’t ALL be for naught, right?

  18. James Clapper on CNN – a CNN top headline:

    Mueller Report “Devastating!”

    What did Clapper say? Well, forget all the stuff about collusion and obstruction… the real important thing here is that the report vindicates the intelligence community and their assessment that Russians were meddling in the election.

    Yes…. that is why it is devastating.

    And he says the meddling went far further than they ever expected, and he’s glad the Mueller report lays this out. He also says this interference tainted the entire election.

    IOW – The Russians Cost Hillary The Election! So Sayeth the Mueller Report … at least according to Clapper.

    But I do like the way CNN uses the headline phrase “Mueller Report Devastating” to spin something completely different.

    These people….

    1. I do think it was channels like CNN that was rooting more for the spectacle of impeachment than Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. Must be good ratings for them.
      And I do wish they would stop putting perjurious gasbags like Clapper on air.

    2. … are feckless lickspittles?

    3. What did Clapper say? Well, forget all the stuff about collusion and obstruction… the real important thing here is that the report vindicates the intelligence community and their assessment that Russians were meddling in the election.

      Yes…. that is why it is devastating.

      And he says the meddling went far further than they ever expected, and he’s glad the Mueller report lays this out. He also says this interference tainted the entire election.

      IOW – The Russians Cost Hillary The Election! So Sayeth the Mueller Report … at least according to Clapper.

      Says a guy who was actually in position to do something about Russian meddling in our affairs. As was his boss (ie. Barack Obama)

      Boy, they sure screwed the pooch didn’t they?

  19. Of all the things to go after Trump over, Russia fever dreams are not it. Can we just stop talking about it?

    1. And just walk away from two years of reporting? Just… walk away like it was a non-story?

      1. Yeah. Pretty much that.

        1. No, now it’s time to talk about how it all got started. Who instigated it, who financed it, who authorized it, etc.

          The US intelligence apparatus was brought to bear on a Presidential campaign, and nothing came of it, that needs to be explained, or people need to be held accountable.

    2. They’ll just make up some other story. Their whole worldview is about making up stories and then deciding to believe them.

  20. Huh, collusion “truthers” are now popping up.

    1. Greenwald is such a hack. He’s clearly jealous of real journalists like Rachel Maddow.

  21. Well I think at a minimum, this entire sad saga has taught us all that there really does need to be some sort of independent entity that can investigate malfeasance in the government without being subject to the ephemeral whims of the person currently in charge, whether it be Trump in charge of the entire executive branch, or anyone else in charge of their little bureaucratic fiefdoms. Perhaps *something like* the Examining Magistrate system ought to be at least looked at.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examining_magistrate
    I wouldn’t recommend it being adopted wholesale, but I think it can provide some instructive guidance on how to proceed.

    1. I bet you, if they tried hard enough, there’s more ‘obstruction’ by Barry and Hillary clown show than anything Trump has done.

      Of course, the media is a DNC shill filed with fake news so….Trump is an easier target.

      1. If that is the result, then that is the result.
        But there really ought to be some type of process to investigate wrongdoing that is independent of the guy in charge.
        Do you have such a system in Canada?

    2. “”there really does need to be some sort of independent entity that can investigate malfeasance in the government without being subject to the ephemeral whims of the person currently in charge,””

      Doesn’t matter how independent or the quality of the investigation because people are still going to say it wasn’t independent when they don’t get the answer they want.

      Pretty much everyone complaining about Mueller now were not complaining about him until he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.

  22. That’s it?

    We’re left with ‘how he reacted’ and some such nonsense?

    FFS.

    There was no underlying crime. He ‘likely thinks something was there’ was the investigation and he found jack squat. People believe Samsquanch is real too and they investigate and find nothing.

    Move on.

  23. Really Reason? You want to argue _as so-called libertarians_ that prosecutors should consider prosecuting someone over this sort of hair-splitting?

    1. Not just “someone”. How about “a person with a considerable amount of power”?

      Trump is not just some ordinary guy. He wields enormous power over everyone. Shouldn’t he be held to a higher standard?

      1. That lady justice statue is blind. The scales are supposed to weigh the same for everyone.

        So no. I don’t want some guys deciding different standards apply because [whatever they feel matters].

        1. Yes, the scales weigh the same for everyone. If someone is charged with a crime, then that person should be adjudged according to the law, regardless of the identity of the person. Tolerating illegal behavior however is a different matter. The person who enforces the law should be held to a higher standard than the person against whom the law is enforced. No?

      2. “Shouldn’t he be held to a higher standard?”

        No. He should be held to the same standard as the rest of us when it comes to criminal law. We’re supposed to be equal, and that includes the President getting the same protections and rights as the rest of us.

  24. It’s clear Mueller wrote he found no CRIME in his obstruction investigation. He also wrote he could not clear Trump. I read that to mean these 10 instances might be a high crime or misdemeanor. Otherwise he’d have written he did find a crime but couldn’t charge a sitting president.

    Either way, Congress ultimately has to impeach or not.

    Speculation about obstruction crime, otherwise, is poor reasoning and poor reporting.

    I’m a long time LP member, not a Trump supporter.

  25. These were things that were done in the open, with no hint that they were improper, mainly because they were common sense. Is Mueller a pundit now?

  26. What BS. POTUS has the authority to order the beginning, or end, of any investigation by any department of the executive branch. These are constitutional powers inherent in the position, and any president can use them, even presidents that you don’t like. Even if you really, really don’t like them. Even if it was Her turn.

    1. Okay, so let’s consider an extreme hypothetical case. Let’s suppose the president really did murder someone on 5th Avenue in New York City, and the FBI dispatched an investigator to interview the president about his involvement in the crime. If the president then decided to fire that investigator, would that be obstruction of justice or not?

      1. The president can’t fire Congress, who would be in the position to investigate and produce the Constitutional remedy of impeachment and removal from office.
        Then a criminal investigation could happen, that the ex-president couldn’t stop and justice would be served.
        The fact that Congress is filled with C, minus students, whose combined IQs don’t reach triple digits, and are more worried about getting re-elected, than anything else, is irrelevant. It is their job to perform oversight, not some unelected “special” prosecutor.

    2. If the ultimate argument here is that the president can never be guilty of obstruction of justice, because the president has the legal power to hire and fire all of the investigators, then that seems like an absurd conclusion on its face. But if I’m wrong, please explain how.

      1. That was the conundrum that the independent counsel law was designed to address.

        Of course that had its own problems. Pretty much exactly the problems Trump had with Mueller – namely an ever-expanding scope and no accountability to anyone…. well, except maybe your political enemies.

        It is a tough situation. Basically, it argues for the people doing a better job picking their chief executive.

        But then you have cases like this, where the independent counsel is set off on a bogus set of allegations. I’m not sure there ever is going to be a good answer for that one.

  27. So do older posts now come with facebook comments rather than what they originally received on the now-defunct Hit&Run?

  28. Comments are closed.

    1. They had been, but you, foolish mortal, re-opened them.

  29. On item #1, in what bizarre universe do we live where the president cannot speak to the director of the FBI alone? Are we to believe that Obama, Bush and Clinton never had 1 on 1 meetings with their subordinates?

    Why did they advise against meeting alone with Comey? Is it just because there is an investigation underway? Nobody seems too worried that Bill Clinton met alone with the Attorney General during an investigation of his wife… well, at least none of the folks who are pretending that asking to meet with Comey is an impeachable offense.

    Every bit of that one seems off… particularly the “reading between the lines”.

    1. #2 is too stupid to have included in the report. Yet there it is. It lets you know a bit more about the mindset of the people preparing the report than it does about the mindset of the subjects of the report.

      1. I’m shocked, shocked I say, that Trump was worried that the investigation would spin out of control.

    2. #3. Can’t fire Comey, huh? I know they are buddies, but come on… that guy was sketchy from the jump.. and he was leaking stories all over the place to make himself look good and everyone else look bad.

      And being concerned about the scope of the investigation? Hell, everyone should have been concerned. The point was supposedly to do a counter-intelligence probe into Russia’s actions…. Something that could have been finished in a month. Instead they spent 2 years plus digging into everyone associated with Trump in any way, looking for anything they could sell as a criminal offense in order to extort testimony against Trump. And they still didn’t get testimony against Trump.
      So I would say those fears were very well grounded.

      1. #5 dips back into the absurd. The people in charge of the investigation absolutely had a duty to constrain the scope. That wasn’t happening, so he wanted their boss to get it under control. That’s his job.

        I guess this is what the independent counsel statute was for – to prevent this situation. But still… in this situation you have a counter-intelligence probe that is being used as cover for things like raiding the president’s personal attorney over a supposed campaign finance violation – if that ain’t beyond the scope of their investigation, I don’t know what is. That isn’t even within the scope of the FBI.

    3. #4. Well, we finally have something. Trump wants Mueller out. Of course this ties in with all the other things.. if they had someone at justice who was keeping the scope of the investigation focused on Russian interference (and allowing for any evidence that US citizens were involved to be followed), none of this would have happened. And it is the job of the executive to make exactly those calls. Instead we had no executive oversight and a member of the Clinton team making those calls.
      So it is a little more complicated than they make it out.. but still looks sketchy, particularly with the “you gotta lie about what I said” angle.

    4. #6. Not even a thing…. but we’ll include it anyway? WTF?

      The only plausible reason for including this tidbit is because they think it makes Trump look bad. Another item that reveals at least as much about he people preparing the report as it does about the subjects of the report.

    5. #7. Trump wanted his AG to do the job he was hired for. He didn’t make any secret of that. And a huge part of the job is to oversee the department of justice, including this investigation.

      If that counts as obstruction of justice… well, it just isn’t. So never mind.

      1. That line of argument is a tacit admission that the purpose of the investigation was to keep Trump’s hands off of the levers of power.

        Lest he find out that the Obama administration was illegally spying on his campaign.

    6. #8.. isn’t this the same thing as the other one? This is the one that looks bad. Telling someone to lie about what you told them is pretty much right in line with obstruction – witness tampering.

    7. #9 That’s a joke, right?

      The independent counsel went after people around Trump with a bunch of “trumped up” charges and ridiculous prison terms in a clear attempt at extortion. And he’s gonna say that tweeting that they were treated badly is witness tampering? Please….

    8. #10… also a joke…
      The guy who raided a citizen’s personal attorney over a very-debatable “campaign contribution” violation and then extorted “cooperation” out of the attorney – prompting him to violate the supposedly sacrosanct attorney client privilege along the way says that saying something mean about Cohen is obstruction of justice?

      Good lord, that takes some fantastic dose of hubris. He’s really worried that “justice” will be impeded because Trump expresses anger that his personal attorney is working with investigators to undermine him? And he doesn’t worry that threatening people with life in jail if they don’t provide the dirt he is looking for impedes justice? And threatening to prosecute people’s spouses if they don’t plead guilty isn’t corrupting the justice system?

      Holy crap people…. What happened to your libertarian instincts?

      That should have been the moment you threw your hands up, even if you hadn’t already had problems with this investigation. Going after someone’s wife in order to force them to plead guilty to a made-up crime should be way, way over the line for every libertarian.
      And here we have the guy who actually did that saying that a private citizen implying that he knows something criminal that your relatives did is a crime. No actual threats… just an implied threat that he’s gonna tell what he knows. Contrast with actually threatening to put your family members in jail for life unless you plead guilty to a crime.

      1. You left out the part about threatening to go after someone’s children.

        The deep state seeking to thwart an upstart political outsider noxious to both party machines should be a problem for libertarians, but Orange Man Bad takes priority for certain ‘libertarians.’

  30. I really just want Barr to hold a press conference in which he started that he looked to Comey’s decision not to press charges on Hillary as guidance to support a lack of instruction charges, and to cite it as a decision based on the lack of mens rea. Lefty heads would explode, Trump’s head would explode, and libertarians would get publicly started policy supporting mens rea. Wins all around.

  31. This is what I think about the coverage of this investigation.

    Stop it already. Quit putting me on the same side with that doofus.

  32. OK, homework assignment for the journalists.

    What did Mueller know, and when did he know it. Yeah, that’s a play on an old phrase. But it means something here too.

    When did Mueller learn that there was no collusion? Based on all the reporting at the time, I’d guess that it was within a couple of weeks of moving in to his office. Maybe sooner, if Comey briefed him on everything he knew.

    So why didn’t he shut down the “get everyone around Trump” part of the investigation sooner. This smacks of the “get Scooter Libby” investigation – an interview that happened after the prosecutors already knew exactly where the leak came from.

    So what is in the report about that? I haven’t found anything yet that would indicate that they learned anything at all about Russia or collusion or lack thereof in the last year. Maybe a lot longer than that. Where was the oversight? Where was the acknowledgement that the scope of their investigation was complete?

    What, they found out that they could spin some tax returns from a couple decades back into a conviction for Manafort, so that’s carte blanche to keep rooting around indefinitely, even though it is entirely unrelated to the scope of the investigation?

    So what did they know, and when did they know it? How far back was the “exoneration” of Trump completed? They probably had to have reached that conclusion within 6 months. They had all the contemporaneous records and they had wiretaps on individuals in the campaign. Surely they had everything they needed the day they started. So how long did it take to collate and corroborate that?

  33. There is an entire section of this part of the report about a third person that is entirely redacted. I’m not inclined to speculate.

    I am inclined. Stone.

    1. If I am anyone that this investigation has even briefly touched, I’m crapping my pants looking at those pages of HOM redactions. They have shown that they are not taking the most charitable look toward people’s actions or words, or even a reasonable interpretation – they are being as aggressive as they possibly can, looking to charge anything they can shoehorn into a legal theory with the highest charge they can find.

      If a casual conversation in passing about nothing of substance taking place several months ago counts as lying about “meeting with” a foreign agent and is prosecuted with an eye towards what would be essentially a life sentence, what is that contract you signed to represent that oil company 6 years ago, or that loan you got for your boat when your employment contract was about to expire, or your representation that you have “no financial interests in Russia” when you own $25k in Janus International mutual funds?

      I can’t imagine that any of the hundreds of people who talked to them are sleeping really well right now.

  34. It does not matter what Mueller thinks rather than what the evidence he has can or cannot prove.

  35. “[T]he evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.”

    How Mueller can write this kind of stuff with a straight face is beyond me. Surely he could have piled a few more layers of imaginary speculation into his “assessment”.

  36. It’s nice to see that Shackford has found some sort of faith. Everyone needs a higher purpose.

  37. “The media found out that Cohen had a recording of a conversation with him and Trump arranging to pay off a woman Trump had an affair with to keep her mouth shut.”

    Wow, what kind of lawyer records their own client and then uses that recording against their own client. Cohen is a scumbag.

  38. “Flynn then reportedly lied to FBI investigators about the conversation.”

    The FBI agents do not agree with that assessment, mind you.

    “In Mueller’s analysis, he notes that Trump then publicly denied asking Comey to let Flynn go, but he finds evidence to corroborate Comey’s account.”

    The evidence being the word of one Comey, James.

    “He also declined to answer when asked if Trump was under investigation. ”

    He admitted under oath that he did tell Trump he was not under investigation.

    “Trump tried to get White House Counsel McGahn to have Mueller removed. McGahn didn’t do so and instead prepared a resignation letter.”

    So nothing happening is proof of obstruction? Intriguing.

    Seems an awful lot of Mueller’s “examples of possible obstruction” consisted of, well, a specific lack of obstruction.

  39. We started an investigation to see if we could get people to commit process crimes. I don’t think lying to law enforcement should even be a crime since law enforcement can lie to people without consequence.

    A lot of people are going to jail because they failed to disclose a detail or two about things that were not evidence of an underlying crime.

  40. Folks, it’s not about legal technicalities. This is about your leader being morally despicable. What this article does not bring up is that Trump has actively tried to steer his supporters’ eyes away from his lies. He has repeatedly called it a witchhunt even though a crime by the Russians was committed and his campaign had a lot of contact with powerful Russians. Even if innocent he should, as the leader of the US, have wanted this investigated. But from the start he was defensive. He couldn’t even admit the Russians did anything wrong. Why is that? He cared more about his reputation than about the integrity of our elections. He supposedly wanted to maintain the facade that he hires only the best when in fact he surrounds himself with dimwits. The evidence from Mueller’s report is overwhelming that Trump is not fit to be president. When will his followers admit this? Just get this creep to resign and let Pence take over. I know, that’s not thrilling, but can’t we have any integrity as a nation?

    1. This is about legal technicalities and whether or not a sitting President colluded with a foreign nation to manipulate the results of an election. The report concluded that there is no evidence to support this.

      The fact that Heraclitus wants this investigation to be about President Trump “being morally despicable” has no bearing on the reality that this investigation was actually about whether or not a sitting President colluded with a foreign nation to manipulate the results of an election. Nor does Heraclitus’ desire for this investigation to be about morals have any bearing whatsoever on the fact that the investigation found no evidence of collusion with Russia.

      1. “”Folks, it’s not about legal technicalities. This is about your leader being morally despicable. “‘

        Wrong. A prosecutor’s job is not about judging morality. The outcome of an investigation is about legalities.

        You’re basically say that the court of public opinion more relevant than the court of law.

  41. […] leaning on witnesses, or otherwise gumming up the works. I trust my Reason colleagues (Scott Shackford, Peter Suderman, Jacob Sullum, and Eric Boehm), each of whom argues to varying degrees that if […]

  42. What’s in there?
    That Mueller didn’t have the evidence, or the balls, to make a case.

  43. […] “What’s Really in the Mueller Report,” by Scott Shackford […]

  44. […] “What’s Really in the Mueller Report,” by Scott Shackford […]

  45. […] “What’s Really in the Mueller Report,” by Scott Shackford […]

  46. […] from the 448-page report released last week by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller (my colleagues have noted many of the most important details already), but one of the most under-appreciated might be just […]

  47. […] from the 448-page report released last week by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller (my colleagues have noted many of the most important details already), but one of the most under-appreciated might be just […]

  48. […] from the 448-page report released last week by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller (my colleagues have noted many of the most important details already), but one of the most under-appreciated might be just […]

  49. And the Mona Lisa is definitely smiling.

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